Climate Change

Most scientists agree that greenhouse gases are causing the Earth to warm. In the Inland Northwest, climate change is demonstrated by lesser snowpack, warmer temperatures, and lower summer precipitation. These three changes combine to pose a threat to forests, wildlife, and aquatic species. Also, past forest management and wildfire suppression has altered tree species and warmer winters have favored more insect attacks, such as the pine bark beetle.

For our region to survive drought and warmer temperatures, we must increase resiliency in our public forests. The Lands Council is increasing climate-resilient species by working in collaboration with diverse stakeholders. This work and protecting old growth forests provides a stronger habitat if species are forced to move northward due to drought and warming. Also, we are using beavers to store more water – this increases aquatic resiliency, creates cooler temperatures, and expands aquatic habitat.

Changes in energy usage in the U.S. have also created a problem for our region as more coal and oil are mined in Montana, Wyoming, and North Dakota and transported by rail to the Pacific Coast. This not only increases greenhouse gases, but oil trains also pose a real and significant threat to the safety of our communities, due to their explosive potential.

To improve our safety and slow the pace of these trains through our region, we must increase public awareness of the dangers oil trains and engage citizens to challenge new coal and oil facilities. These efforts will also ultimately delay the export of coal and oil – the products that already fuel and increase in greenhouse gases.