Two approaches for incorporating climate change into natural resource management planning at Wind Cave National Park

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Abstract

Wind Cave National Park (WICA) protects one of the world’s longest caves, has large amounts of high quality, native vegetation, and hosts a genetically important bison herd. The park’s relatively small size and unique purpose within its landscape requires hands-on management of these and other natural resources, all of which are interconnected. Anthropogenic climate change presents an added challenge to WICA natural resource management because it is characterized by large uncertainties, many of which are beyond the control of park and National Park Service (NPS) staff. When uncertainty is high and control of this uncertainty low, scenario planning is an appropriate tool for determining future actions. In 2009, members of the NPS obtained formal training in the use of scenario planning in order to evaluate it as a tool for incorporating climate change into NPS natural resource management planning. WICA served as one of two case studies used in this training exercise. Although participants in the training exercise agreed that the scenario planning process showed promise for its intended purpose, they were concerned that the process lacked the scientific rigor necessary to defend the management implications derived from it in the face of public scrutiny. This report addresses this concern and others by (1) providing a thorough description of the process of the 2009 scenario planning exercise, as well as its results and management implications for WICA; (2) presenting the results of a follow-up, scientific study that quantitatively simulated responses of WICA’s hydrological and ecological systems to specific climate projections; (3) placing these climate projections and the general climate scenarios used in the scenario planning exercise in the broader context of available climate projections; and (4) comparing the natural resource management implications derived from the two approaches. Wind Cave National Park (WICA) protects one of the world’s longest caves, has large amounts of high quality, native vegetation, and hosts a genetically important bison herd. The park’s relatively small size and unique purpose within its landscape requires hands-on management of these and other natural resources, all of which are interconnected. Anthropogenic climate change presents an added challenge to WICA natural resource management because it is characterized by large uncertainties, many of which are beyond the control of park and National Park Service (NPS) staff. When uncertainty is high and control of this uncertainty low, scenario planning is an appropriate tool for determining future actions. In 2009, members of the NPS obtained formal training in the use of scenario planning in order to evaluate it as a tool for incorporating climate change into NPS natural resource management planning. WICA served as one of two case studies used in this training exercise. Although participants in the training exercise agreed that the scenario planning process showed promise for its intended purpose, they were concerned that the process lacked the scientific rigor necessary to defend the management implications derived from it in the face of public scrutiny. This report addresses this concern and others by (1) providing a thorough description of the process of the 2009 scenario planning exercise, as well as its results and management implications for WICA; (2) presenting the results of a follow-up, scientific study that quantitatively simulated responses of WICA’s hydrological and ecological systems to specific climate projections; (3) placing these climate projections and the general climate scenarios used in the scenario planning exercise in the broader context of available climate projections; and (4) comparing the natural resource management implications derived from the two approaches.

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Title Two approaches for incorporating climate change into natural resource management planning at Wind Cave National Park
Series number NPS/WICA/NRTR—2014/918
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Natural Park Service
Contributing office(s) Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Description xii, 87 p.