In partnership with state, tribal, and federal agency partners, the Obama administration released the first draft national strategy to help decision makers and resource managers prepare for and help reduce the impacts of climate change on species, ecosystems, and the people and economies that depend on them.

The draft National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaptation Strategy, available for public review and comment through March 5, 2012, can be found on the web at www.wildlifeadaptationstrategy.gov.

The strategy represents a draft framework for unified action to safeguard fish, wildlife and plants, as well as the important benefits and services the natural world provides the nation every day, including jobs, food, clean water, clean air, building materials, storm protection, and recreation.

“The impacts of climate change are already here and those who manage our landscapes are already dealing with them,” said Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes. “The reality is that rising sea levels, warmer temperatures, loss of sea ice and changing precipitation patterns – trends scientists have definitively connected to climate change – are already affecting the species we care about, the services we value, and the places we call home. A national strategy will help us prepare and adapt.”

Congress called for a national, government-wide strategy in 2010, directing the President’s Council on Environmental Quality and the Department of the Interior to develop it. CEQ and Interior responded by assembling an unprecedented partnership of federal, state and tribal fish and wildlife conservation agencies to draft the strategy. More than 100 diverse researchers and managers from across the country participated in the drafting for the partnership.

The partnership is co-led by Interior’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, representing state fish and wildlife agencies.

The strategy will guide the nation’s efforts during the next five years to respond to current and future climate change impacts such as changing species distributions and migration patterns, the spread of wildlife diseases and invasive species, the inundation of coastal habitats with rising sea levels, and changes in freshwater availability with shifting precipitation and habitat types. The strategy does not prescribe mandatory activities that agencies must take nor suggest regulatory actions; rather, it provides a roadmap for decision makers and resource managers to use in considering climate change implications to their ongoing wildlife and habitat management activities.