Conservation Northwest staffer receives Honorable Mention for climate change and forest roads report

Conservation Northwest staffer receives Honorable Mention for climate change and forest roads report

Conservation Northwest / Sep 23, 2020 / Climate Change, Forest Field Program, Forest Roads

Retired Forest Field staffer George Wooten was recognized for his report on climate change impacts to forest roads.

For more than a decade, George Wooten worked as our Conservation Associate and Okanogan Forest Field staffer. Among other accomplishments, he helped plan restoration projects and objections on risky timber sales, as well as protect the Methow Headwaters from industrial mining.

To add to his tremendous impact on our Forest Field program, George’s report on climate change impacts to roads on the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest received an Honorable Mention in the 2020 Climate Adaptation Leadership Awards from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ National Fish, Wildlife, & Plants Climate Adaptation Network.

View George’s report as a PDF.

An old forest road restored with native plants. Photo: George Wooten

The Climate Adaptation Leadership Awards recognizes outstanding efforts to increase the resilience of America’s valuable living natural resources and the many people, businesses and communities that depend on them. George was recognized for his work with Kevin James of the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest to utilize a climate change vulnerability assessment and subsequent analysis to determine potential effects of climate change on the forest road system. This report has notable outcomes for our work to restore habitat on public lands north and south of Interstate 90 that are vital to wildlife movement between Mount Rainier National Park and the Alpine Lakes Wilderness through our Central Cascades Watersheds Restoration program.

Report description from Climate Adaptation Leadership Award:

George Wooten supervises a restoration project in the Cascades. Photo: Chase Gunnell

Individual road segments were evaluated for climate change hazard; factors evaluated included projected increase in 100-year floods, increases in soil moisture, change in rain- or snow-dominant subwatershed regime, and projected date of snowmelt. Results allowed managers to see how proposed changes in road maintenance levels may be impacted by future changes in climate, identify vulnerable riparian areas near infrastructure and road crossings, as well as changing patterns in visitor access to higher elevation recreation area (with increasing snow-free days).

This information was used by the forest to evaluate the potential impacts of climate change on the proposed actions of two access and travel management National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) projects. Specifically, the information was used to make decisions about road decommissioning, maintenance, and downgrading. Roads projects are being integrated with broader scale terrestrial and aquatic habitat restoration projects on the forest. Currently, climate change adaptation approaches from the original travel management plans have been incorporated into several large-scale (>100,000 acre) restoration projects across the forest. Implementation of some of these climate-smart restoration projects is expected to begin in the summer of 2020. Read the full report.

Congratulations on your well-deserved recognition, George! work on this report was funded by a grant from the SUSTAINABLE PATH FOUNDATION. learn more about our FOREST FIELD PROGRAM or work for CLIMATE CHANGE.