Setting habitat priorities in a warming world: Lessons from WY
In 2020, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) partnered with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) on a North Central CASC supported project designed to help the agency incorporate climate change into their Statewide Habitat Plan (SHP) that was slated for an update that year. WGFD and WCS worked together to develop and apply a process for incorporating climate change into the SHP, which included a participatory workshop, a post-workshop Information Needs Survey, and regular meetings throughout the year to translate findings from the workshop and survey into the updated SHP.
As a result of this project, climate change was more extensively incorporated into the 2020 SHP relative to the previous version of the plan (completed in 2015). This included discussing climate change as a threat to achieving habitat protection and restoration for river, riparian and wetland habitats, as well as incorporating climate-informed management strategies and actions. The updated SHP also included climate change within the agency’s scoring system for allocating funding to habitat management projects. In addition to informing the SHP, the project also helped WGFD identify management-relevant climate-related information needs that are considered highly useful to WGFD staff and their management efforts. This project offers a useful model to other agencies that are interested in incorporating climate change into management plans, and to scientists and agencies looking to identify priority research needs related to climate change.