CASCs Represented Among Those Honored with the 2019 Climate Adaptation Leadership Award

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Southeast and National CASC fellows, a Northwest CASC-funded PI, and a team led by the Northeast CASC tribal liaison were among those honored at the 2019 Climate Adaptation Leadership Award for Natural Resources at the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Annual Meeting.

The Climate Adaptation Leadership Award, established in 2016, recognizes exemplary leadership by individuals, agencies, businesses and other organizations to reduce impacts and advance adaptation of the Nation’s vital natural resources and the many people who depend on them in a changing world. Recipients were selected from 20 nominations representing activities from individuals and federal, tribal, state, local, and non‐governmental organizations from around the country.

The Award is sponsored and guided by the Climate Adaptation Leadership Awards Steering Committee and is made up of representatives from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies and various Federal agencies including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

A former National CASC fellow, a Northwest CASC-funded PI, and a team led by the Northeast CASC tribal liaison were among those who received awards. A former Southeast CASC fellow received honorable mention:

Individual Achievement Category: Jessica Halofsky, University of Washington and USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station (Northwest CASC-funded PI)
For the past 12 years, Dr. Jessica Halofsky has led climate change vulnerability assessments and adaptation projects throughout the western U.S. These projects, facilitated by Adaptation Partners, cover 50 National Forests and 32 National Park Service units. Assessments have engaged 1,300 resource managers, 100 scientists, and 150 stakeholders through 28 workshops. Each assessment is accompanied by peer-reviewed documentation. Forest Service General Technical Reports are supplemented by journal articles and other publications (24 total). Dr. Halofsky was coauthor of Responding to climate change in national forests: a guidebook for developing adaptation options, a foundational publication with national guidance on climate change in the U.S. Forest Service. She recently published the book Climate Change and Rocky Mountain Ecosystems. Dr. Halofsky also led development of the Climate Change Adaptation Library which contains 870 adaptation options for water resources, fisheries, vegetation, wildlife, recreation, infrastructure, and ecosystem services. The Library is widely used by resource managers in federal agencies and beyond, thus facilitating the adaptation process and consistency across different locations and organizations. Dr. Halofsky is currently involved in assessments in California, Oregon, and Washington, with discussions underway for new assessments in three other Forest Service regions. She is working on revisions for the Forest Service scorecard process, thus ensuring accountability for climate change in National Forests. She is also working on a national template for implementing climate change in Forest Service planning processes. This will be widely used, as National Forests accelerate revisions of land management plans.

Tribal Category: Dibaginjigaadeg Anishinaabe Ezhitwaad – A Tribal Climate Adaptation Menu, Tribal Adaptation Menu Team (led by the Northeast CASC Tribal Liaison, Sara Smith, NE CASC Consortium member College of Menominee Nation, and key partners Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission and Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science)
Traditional and indigenous knowledge and perspectives have not often been recognized in climate adaptation for natural and cultural resources. The Tribal Adaptation Menu was created to make a stronger connection between indigenous values and climate adaptation planning. The Tribal Adaptation Menu is an extensive collection of climate change adaptation actions for natural resource management, organized into tiers of general and more specific ideas. The Menu also includes a companion Guiding Principles document, which describes detailed considerations for working with tribal communities, such as the importance of respect and reciprocity in all our interactions with people and the natural world.  The Menu may be used to brainstorm appropriate adaptation actions, to connect specific actions to a larger intent and purpose, and also to communicate adaptation ideas to diverse audiences. In particular, the Menu may be useful to bridge communication barriers for non-tribal persons or organizations interested in indigenous approaches to adaptation and the needs and values of tribal communities. The Menu is for indigenous communities, tribal natural resources staff, and non-indigenous partner organizations. This first version of the Tribal Adaptation Menu was intentionally created from Ojibwe and Menominee languages, concepts, and values. The Menu can be customized for other communities using their language and cultural knowledge. This Tribal Climate Adaptation Menu, which was developed by a diverse group of collaborators representing tribal, academic, intertribal, and federal entities in Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, is a noteworthy advance in the on-going process of recognizing and promoting indigenous perspectives that can help confront some of today’s most pressing challenges. The team responsible for developing this resource deserves recognition for their contribution to the climate adaptation field.

Student Leadership Category: Tracy Melvin, Michigan State University (2016 NCASC Science to Action Fellow)
This student’s work could well qualify for an award were she a professional. Indeed, many of her colleagues simply assume that she is a professor or agency professional. In addition to being a full time graduate student, with a demanding field season in Alaska each summer, she has served as the Chair of the Climate Change Working Group of The Wildlife Society (TWS) since 2018. When the American Fisheries Society (AFS) approached the TWS working group with seed money for a joint climate change project, she created a joint AFS/TWS initiative to convene a panel of experts on climate-driven ecosystem transformation, which will present results at the joint AFS/TWS conference in Reno this fall. In 2018, she organized a symposium titled “Big Ideas and Bold Actions for 21st Century Wildlife Conservation” on future direction and challenges to wildlife management. A former USGS Climate Adaptation Fellow, she always seems to be leading something. For example, she organized the first ever CANR Rising event (College of Agriculture and Natural Resources), which featured several deans and senior faculty telling stories about overcoming barriers in their personal and professional lives. However, her skills are not limited to leadership. Her research itself is promising, and it is grounded in field experience. She is measuring indicators of ecological change during an ongoing and climate-driven ecological transformation on the Kenai Peninsula in southern Alaska, where climate is changing roughly twice as fast as in the continental United States. Her work will provide managers with tangible and measurable metrics of climate-driven ecological change, and it offers a preview of the types of challenges that managers at lower latitudes are likely to experience in coming decades. As a leader and researcher, Tracy exemplifies the next generation of wildlife ecologists who are driving adaptation with vision and pragmatism.

Student Leadership Category (Honorable Mention): Tina Mozelewski, North Carolina State University (2018-2019 Southeast CASC Global Change Fellow)
Tina Mozelewski is a PhD student studying the effectiveness of various conservation strategies under uncertainty, especially when caused by climate and land use change. She uses landscape forecast modeling to examine how forests in central North Carolina will respond to climate change, and uses this as the base for studying the implications of conservation strategy spatial pattern on landscape-level connectivity under climate and land use change.

For a complete list of awardees, view the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies press release here.

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