Because climate matters...

Changes in climate may lead to complex environmental interactions that could present unprecedented challenges for land managers, natural resource professionals, local businesses, conservation professionals and national park managers. Fire, drought, insect infestations and invasive species present pervasive challenges to the management of SW Colorado's public lands and National Parks, and many of these changes are already being documented. Future decision-making depends on our understanding of how these environmental factors are affected by changes in climate, and to what degree changes in climate will take place. While it is possible to identify trends within these changes, even the best available science is unable to provide precise predictions of what the next 10-20 years will look like. Use this webpage to find relevant, up-to-date information on important trends affecting wildland and private-public landscapes of the San Juan Mountain region in southwest Colorado. Whether you are member of the community, decision maker, or land manager, you will find useful information on relevant natural resources and human livelihoods that are sensitive to changes in our climate.

Introduction: Social and Ecological Resilience in Southwest Colorado Partnership

MSI, University of Montana, The Nature Conservancy, Colorado Heritage Program, United States Geological Survey, Western Water Assessment, and North Central Climate Science Center partnered to develop a series of tools and resources to evaluate and examine possible future changes that might take place in the SW Colorado landscape and to understand the impact of those changes on natural processes, local economies, and social and environmental factors. A secondary goal was to introduce participants to a scenario process that can be used to support decisions in the context of uncertainty.

Scenario planning is a tool used by managers to explore the possible outcomes due to a changing climate based on imperial scientific evidence. Scenario planning does not predict the future; rather it provides a context for understanding complex environmental interactions based on possible future conditions, and provides a basis for which to plan.

Climate Scenarios

The scenarios represent three different futures – a hotter drier future, a warmer future where annual precipitation remains roughly the same but with seasonality changes, and a future with high inter annual variability between hot dry years followed by cold wet years. These scenarios were developed with projected seasonal climate data provided to us by Dr. Imatiaz Rangwala (climatologist with Western Water Assessment and NOAA) for the year 2035. Ecological implications were developed by Renée Rondeau (ecologist with the Colorado Natural Heritage Program). Ecological experts reviewed and edited the Scenarios.



In the spring of 2017 MSI and our partners are recording the Social-Ecological Resilience and Changing Landscapes Webinar Series. The webinars will integrate key social, ecological and climate components influencing climate adaptation.  They will highlight the seeps, springs and wetlands and piñon-juniper landscapes to help identify intervention points and strategies to reduce impacts of climate change on people and nature.  The webinars will be archived and linked here as they become available.

San Juan Webinars

Description:  The National Conservation Training Center partnered with the North Central Climate Science Center and the Mountain Studies Institute to offer two climate-smart conservation courses together in the Durango, CO area. Both courses are based on the guide Climate-Smart Conservation:  Putting Adaptation Principles into Practice

in Durango, CO, hosted by the North Central Climate Science Center, Colorado Natural Heritage Program, and Mountain Studies Institute.


An Overview of Climate-Smart Conservation
The first and most basic one-day course is An Overview of Climate-Smart Conservation, which provides an introduction to climate adaptation for application to on-the-ground conservation. It will also provide an overview of how to craft climate-informed conservation goals, to carry out adaptation with intentionality, and how to manage for change and not just persistence.  This is a perfect course to take if you do not have a proposal to submit for the workshop and would like a primer to the Climate-Smart Conservation process.  If you are submitting a proposal to the workshop, it is recommend that you take the overview class prior to attending.

Climate Adaptation Workshop
The second and more involved course is the Climate Adaptation Workshop,  which provides hands-on training for applying climate-smart principles to real natural resource management plans and projects that are local or regional in scope. Teams, consisting of two or more people, will be coached using the climate-smart conservation framework and will develop climate-informed conservation goals and integrate adaption planning into on-going work.   Teams will document their project at the end of the workshop with a short summary. 

Participation in the Workshop
In order to participate in the workshop,  your team most submit a proposal using a standard template.  Once the proposals have been submitted, potential case studies representing a variety of natural resource conservation plans and efforts will be reviewed and selected.   Team proposals should include a general description of your area, climate change concerns for your project, your potential team members, and desired outcomes for the workshop (refer to Workshop RFP for guidance).   Pre-work is required to attend the workshop including a 1-hour webinar, 1 hour coaching session, and worksheets.

For further details, please see the Overview of Climate Smart-Conservation Class Announcement,  Climate Adaptation Workshop Announcement, and Proposal Template