On June 14, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn released the department’s Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation Plan outlining 123 action steps to be undertaken to make the commonwealth more resilient to potential impacts from a changing climate.

“As the state’s leading conservation agency, DCNR is using the best available science to develop and implement climate change strategies to minimize and adapt to these impacts, and serve as a role model for the citizens of Pennsylvania,” Dunn said.

The secretary highlighted climate change resiliency during keynote remarks later that night at the annual Pennsylvania Environmental Council dinner in Philadelphia.

During 2017, staff members from across all of DCNR’s bureaus participated in a rigorous process to determine and prioritize the department’s greatest climate change vulnerabilities, and identify strategies to address them.

Dunn noted efforts are already underway to implement recommendations, including significant work over the past several years on energy conservation and renewable energy in DCNR’s hundreds of buildings and vehicle fleet, and the department’s leadership of the movement to plant trees along streams to improve water quality and address impacts from climate change.

Getting underway this year is an effort to increase staff knowledge and expertise on climate change challenges and solutions through a newly-formed communication and education team.

To test adaptive management practices on the ground, DCNR will be launching a climate change adaptation pilot project on public lands in the southcentral part of the state, including the 85,000-acre Michaux State Forest, and Kings Gap, Pine Grove Furnace, and Caledonia state parks.

The 53-page plan including the vulnerabilities and recommendations was developed with the Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, and can be found on the DCNR Climate Change web page.

Pennsylvania is experiencing higher temperatures; increased precipitation; higher numbers of storm events; decreased snow cover; and changing distribution of some plants and animals related to climate change.

DCNR’s mission is to conserve and sustain Pennsylvania’s natural resources for present and future generations’ use and enjoyment.