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USDA kicks off webinar series on drought and water challenges

The USDA Office of Sustainability and Climate Change posted a 2-hour introduction to upcoming opportunities related to drought and water challenges. The aim is to engage Forest Service employees and partners in planning for and adapting to the impacts of drought and other water challenges in the face of a changing climate.

You can  view  this on-demand webinar at any time by going to http://www.climatewebinars.net/webinars/drought-and-water-challenges/webinar_view.

For additional information about the webinar and details about our speakers, view the webinar flyer or contact Amit Patel, amitrpatel@fs.fed.us.

Background

Several areas of the western United States have experienced significant droughts and extreme events related to water (flooding) during the past decade. Although much attention is focused on the effects of these water-related challenges on agricultural lands and human settlements, forests and grasslands have also been affected, sometimes severely.

The U.S. Forest Service is holding a series of workshops to examine regional vulnerabilities of federal lands and identify strategies to address these vulnerabilities. To ensure that findings on drought vulnerability are widely dispersed to the management community, each workshop will be hosted by U.S. Forest Service resource specialists and research scientists and include representatives from other agencies and stakeholders. The regional workshops will be previewed in this National Drought Webinar.

Policy Context

In March 2016, a Presidential Memorandum was issued, requiring federal agencies to build national capabilities for long term drought resilience. The White House issued the "Long-Term Drought Resilience Federal Action Plan of the National Drought Resilience Partnership," establishing the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) as co-chair. The National Drought Resilience Partnership seeks to:

• Collect and integrate data on drought and related water issues
• Communicate about risk to critical infrastructure
• Initiate drought planning and capacity building
• Coordinate federal drought activity
• Explore market-based approaches for infrastructure and efficiency
• Promote innovative water use, efficiency, and technology

USDA has tasked the Forest Service Office of Sustainability and Climate Change (OSCC) to conduct a series of workshops and webinars to engage federal employees and regarding the effects of drought and other water-related challenges. Regional climate change coordinators and USDA Climate Hubs are assisting with this effort.

Workshop Objectives

Workshops will review current region-specific science on future drought and water-related challenges, describe management constraints and opportunities, and develop priority strategies and management practices to increase forest and grassland resilience.  Workshops will focus on water resources, forest and grassland vegetation, wildfire, and recreation and other ecosystem services.

Each workshop will develop a summary of adaptation strategies and management actions that can be used in planning and on-the-ground applications.  The results of all workshops will be synthesized, peer reviewed, and published in a Forest Service General Technical Report.  This information will provide input to the U.S. Global Change Research Program as part of the next National Climate Assessment, and will be an important foundation for future drought planning and climate change adaptation in national forests and other federal lands.

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