Association of State Wetland Managers - Protecting the Nation's Wetlands.

The Compleat Wetlander: Taking Time to Talk About Wetlands and Climate Change

A couple weeks ago the Compleat Wetlander blog described an opportunity to comment on the Progress Report of the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force. http://aswm.org/wordpress/2010/05/the-compleat-wetlander-responding-to-a-changing-climate-cast-your-vote-for-protecting-water-wetlands-and-wildlife-by-may-15/.  When I checked the website today: there are over 2000 comments posted.  Included among the comments is a letter from the Association of State Wetland Managers which I’ve included this week. 

Speaking as someone who has reviewed comments like these for more than one federal agency, I can say they do get read.  One comment alone is generally not enough to shape public policy, but similar messages from many voices can make a difference particularly if those voices provide technical comments and recommend specific actions.

If we as individual citizens and organizations take democracy and democratic processes seriously; then the government is obligated to do so as well.

May 15, 2010

Dear Sir/Madam,

On behalf of the Association of State Wetland Managers I would like to endorse the comprehensive effort that is being undertaken by the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force.  The Association of State Wetland Managers has been holding workshops and publishing information on wetlands and climate change for over ten years.  We have synthesized information gathered into a report “Recommendations for a National Wetlands and Climate Change Initiative which is available at pdfhttp://aswm.org/pdf_lib/recommendations_2008_112008.

We agree that adaptive strategies to support resilience and retain natural resources should be of primary importance.  It is crucial for all sectors of society to be engaged in indentifying and undertaking actions to keep people safe.  This requires a healthy environment.  Healthy, productive water resources including wetlands, rivers, lakes, and coastal waters merit special attention because these resources will become increasingly important if they become regionally scarce as predicted as a result of climate change.

In order to protect and conserve water resources it is necessary to know where they are and what is happening to them.  This cannot be accomplished without accurate maps of water resources including wetlands, rivers, streams, lakes, and coastlines. This does not exist nationally.  It should be a priority to provide local communities, states, tribes and federal agencies with accurate information about the location and extent of water resources and to revise and update those maps periodically to reflect changes.

There should also be an emphasis on identifying appropriate actions to take to support resilience. The concept of somehow responding to climate change can be overwhelming. We encourage the Task Force to identify actions, program changes and other activities that are available to society to make progress developing resilient natural landscapes.

Finally, while there has been some limited research into the potential for wetlands to store carbon, there has been little or no attention given to the importance of keeping the carbon stored in wetlands in those wetlands and preventing it from being released into the environment.  It has been estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that wetlands—which include only about six percent of the earth’s terrestrial area—contain carbon equal to the total atmospheric carbon store.  Protecting carbon stores in wetlands and other water resources should be included as a priority topic in the overall discussion on adaptation and resilience.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the interim report.
Sincerely,
Jeanne Christie
Executive Director

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