National Wildlife Refuges and Sea-Level Rise: Lessons from the Frontlines

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Among the many challenges facing conservationists, none is more complex and profound than climate change. Climate change is by definition global in nature; the emission and accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is causing substantial shifts in weather patterns, average temperatures and precipitation levels around the planet, and is contributing to a rise in the incidence of extreme weather events. This report is the outgrowth of a workshop on “Refuges, Neighbors and Sea-level Rise,” convened at the 2011 Conserving the Future Conference, which brought together federal and state wildlife agencies, conservation organizations, outdoor recreation groups, journalists and the public to discuss what lies ahead for the U.S. National Wildlife Refuge System. This report focuses on the implications of climate-change driven sea level rise for our national wildlife refuges, and lays out a framework of concrete conservation measures refuge managers can take to address this challenge.

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