Coastal managers from California and Alaska are partnering to apply the Tijuana River Reserve’s expertise in collaborative scenario planning to prepare for the future in Kachemak Bay, Alaska.
Local climate impacts
Climate change impacts in Alaska are much more pronounced than in other regions of the United States. Communities in the Kenai Peninsula are already coping with a variety of impacts related to a warming climate, including reductions in wetland areas, glacial ice coverage, and freshwater availability; and increases in temperatures, ocean acidification, and harmful algal blooms.
Enhancing resiliency through collaboration
Efforts to document these recent environmental changes will be leveraged to create tangible recommendations and a long-term local strategy for adaptation to rapid climate change. Barriers hindering effective climate change planning on the peninsula include the uncertainty of future trajectories, a need for a synthesis of regional data, and limited capacity for interagency collaboration. This project aims to address these needs and help coastal communities on the Kenai Peninsula plan for a changing climate.
Drawing upon experience using scenario planning to help local communities prepare for climate change in the Tijuana River Valley (Southern California), the project team will use the best available science to facilitate local dialogue addressing how climate change may impact the Kenai Peninsula. The project will engage regional leaders and community stakeholders to collaboratively develop plausible future planning scenarios based on a wide range of possible environmental responses to a changing climate. Ultimately this process and the resulting scenarios will help to inform area resource managers and land use planners as they lay the groundwork for future research, regulation, and development. Additionally, the project will document the process and lessons learned to further demonstrate the applicability of scenario planning across geographically distinct communities.
An interdepartmental planning team from both reserves, guided by Kenai Peninsula stakeholders, will:
- Synthesize climate change science and impacts – Compile the best available science on climate change impacts projected for the Kenai Peninsula.
- Identify priorities – Informally survey stakeholders to gain insight into local climate observations, risk perceptions, and regional perspectives on steps needed for successful community adaptation.
- Engage stakeholders – Convene stakeholders to provide an overview of the best available science on local climate change impacts and compile community climate scenarios to inform local decision-making processes and management actions.
- Document lessons learned – The process and lessons learned will be documented and distributed broadly throughout the reserve system.
- Apply project results – Kachemak Bay Reserve will utilize the climate scenarios developed in this project to inform future data collection priorities, and advance local adaptation planning and actions.
This project aims to help empower and support stakeholders in the Kenai Penninsula, providing them with a framework from which they can work towards a common vision for the future of their community in the face of a changing climate. Anticipated benefits include:
- Increased awareness and understanding of climate change science and vulnerabilities among Kenai Peninsula decision makers.
- Strengthened stakeholder network to address a changing climate and increase coastal resilience.
- Expanded regional capacity to prepare for climate change with tangible adaptation actions.