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Managing for Climate Change. National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska. Danielle Jerry, USFWS-AK. 16 refuges Over 76 million acres (82% of the Refuge System, and 18% of Alaska) 18.5 million acres of Wilderness in 10 Alaska Refuges. ANILCA’s 4 Basic Purposes for Alaska Refuges.

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Managing for Climate Change

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    1. Managing for Climate Change National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska Danielle Jerry, USFWS-AK

    2. 16 refuges • Over 76 million acres • (82% of the Refuge System, • and 18% of Alaska) • 18.5 million acres of Wilderness • in 10 Alaska Refuges

    3. ANILCA’s 4 Basic Purposes for Alaska Refuges “(i) Conserve fish and wildlife populations and habitats in their natural diversity…; (ii) Fulfill the international treaty obligations ... with respect to fish and wildlife and their habitats; • (iii) Provide … consistent with the purposes… • (i) and (ii), the opportunity of continued subsistence uses by local residents; (iv) Ensure water quality and necessary water quantity within the refuge.”

    4. Inventory and monitoring of climate effects on refuges -- • Develop/revise Refuge I & M plans – emphasis on ecosystem priorities. • Starting Regional I & M plan to set regional priorities. • Snow depth markers/ Automated weather stations • Stream flow data collection • Traditional wildlife monitoring – e.g., waterfowl, moose, • Kenai Refuge Long Term Ecological Monitoring Program -- effects of abiotic and biotic factors on species distribution.

    5. Research on climate effects on Refuges • Alaska Maritime Refuge – SE Bering Sea carrying capacity • Innoko Refuge – Studying effects of changing water levels on white- fronted geese. • Koyukuk Refuge – Climate change effects on subsistence species (UAF-Chapin) • Kanuti Refuge – Fire effects on sensitive plant communities (lichens and sage steppe). • Yukon Flats Refuge – Studied changes in water surface & quality, and invertebrate abundance in wetlands from 1984-2003.

    6. More management under the Endangered Species Act as listings in Alaska increase and causes of decline obscure.

    7. As AK species petitioned for listing grow…recovery actions become globally political, and past successes seem inherently easier.

    8. Managing change in fire regimes -- 1) Frequency and location– lightning strikes in new areas, season duration 2) Severity – drier, wildland/urban/rural interface expands, smoke 3) Habitat Effects – drier, more grass, insects, less permafrost Larger seasonal fire program More fuels management; prevention outreach; and agency coordination Manage for wildland fire use; Research and monitoring

    9. Existing regulatory bodies will address the challenges of climate change on subsistence. 1) Change in abundance and harvest patterns of fish and wildlife resources. 2) Melting sea ice-- limits harvest of marine mammals and increase danger. 3) Disproportionate impact on subsistence users of changes in salmon populations. • Federal Subsistence Management per ANILCA; • Alaska Migratory Bird Co-management Council. • Marine Mammal Co-Management Commissions; • Endangered Species Act regulations. • Federal Subsistence Management per ANILCA; • Magnusson/Stevens Act; • State Fisheries management.

    10. Water Resources Challenges • Absence of baseline hydrologic data • Integrating science, management and law of water resources to ensure refuge needs are protected • Integrating Federal mandates State law • Education • Water is not a renewable resource • Water rights are property rights • Functioning Ecosystems are good for wildlife and the local economy

    11. “To preserve in their natural state extensive unaltered arctic tundra, boreal forest, and coastal rainforest ecosystems…” • The ANILCA advantage • For conservation, geography and size matter