Interior Dept Sees Need for Global Warming Strategy

wildfire photo

Wild Fire in California Forest in Fall of 2007. Image credit:Assurance Group

We cheered earlier this week when Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced the first-ever department-wide coordinated strategy to address the impacts of climate change on the public lands, wildlife, coasts, and ecosystems managed by his agency.

It's a fantastic plan and a nice coincidence because it comes right before our major Sunday event: Sierra Club activists from around the country are hosting more than 750 parties to watch a preview of the new Ken Burns documentary series, "The National Parks: America's Best Idea." The full documentary airs on PBS on Sept. 27th. (You'll remember we encouraged you to host a party only a few weeks ago)At these house parties on Sunday (find out if there's one near you and RSVP now!), our folks will also be writing letters to Secretary Salazar asking him to make it a priority to protect America's national parks from global warming, too.

We've already begun to see the effects of global warming on America's land and wildlife. We're seeing worse wildfires, wildlife population declines, and shrinking habitat and food sources for animals like grizzlies and bighorn sheep.

The Sierra Club has been working hard to ensure that federal, state, and local land-management agencies address global warming. We are thrilled to see many of our recommendations reflected in the Interior Department's strategy.

The Interior Department is in a unique position to protect our wild legacy. Coordination between federal and local agencies and private landowners is vital. In order to help our wildlife and native plants adapt, we need to protect important habitat from stressors like unchecked logging, mining, drilling and industrial development. We need to protect key wildlife migration routes and ecosystems, including on private lands. We need to enhance the capacity of our forests, wetlands and soils to store carbon and help fight global warming.

The Interior Department will need to work in concert with other federal agencies, states, tribes, and private landowners to come up with cooperative programs that allow species to move and survive in a climate-changed world.

The strategy announced today by Secretary Salazar will go a long way toward achieving these goals. We look forward to working with him in the coming months to implement the program.

Secretary Salazar has shown true leadership by making it a priority for his agency to address the impacts of global warming on our treasured public lands, waters, and wildlife. Now, through the letter-writing at our house parties, we want to see that same leadership for our National Parks. Attend one of these parties to take action, too, and to get the excellent bonus of seeing a preview of the excellent documentary.

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