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Wetlands Protection as an Adaptation Step

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The Geos Institute is assisting communities in their climate adaptation planning by providing climate projections, workshop facilitation, and reports. Here’s an update from the Central Oregon ClimateWise process:

Deschutes county in Central Oregon has adopted the largest wetland inventory in Oregon; nearly 19,000 acres. Peter Gutowsky, Principal Planner, says the Deschutes county commissioners all approved, with no one testifying in opposition. He adds, “This is a testament to a program that produces multiple ecological benefits, including some needed resiliency in the face of changing climate conditions.”


By late this century, Jefferson, Deschutes, and Crook counties in Central Oregon counties are likely to be experiencing temperature increases between 5.4° and 8.7° F. The climate models agree that over the next thirty years this area is likely to experience slightly wetter winters and that spring, summer, and fall will be drier. Forest fires are likely to increase by 11-16%. These changes are expected to cause significant disruption to many of the area’s economic drivers, including agriculture, forestry, and recreation while straining the natural systems that provides clean water for towns, agriculture, fish, and wildlife.

In 2011 over 80 local workshop participants met to address these issues. They were convened by the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council. Participants came with backgrounds and expertise in health and emergency services, infrastructure, natural systems, cultural resources and the economy. They gathered at the Community Center in Powell Butte, Oregon. With science data provided by the Geos Institute and others, they deliberated on the likely impacts of climate change on their communities.

Stakeholder recommended strategies include:

  • Increase water storage, decrease flood risks, increase groundwater storage, and improve surface water quality by restoring wetlands, complex and meandering stream channels, and floodplains.
  • Improve irrigation water delivery and application, reducing water-intensive landscaping in municipal settings.
  • Limit urban wildland and floodplain development by focusing future development near existing emergency service hubs and available water supplies.
  • Initiate conservation-minded land use planning to incorporate potential risks to habitats from changing climate conditions into community, economic development, and conservation (including transportation, agriculture, and forest / resource management).

Read more, including the report, Integrated Strategies for a Vibrant and Sustainable Central Oregon.

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