This Article assesses the capability of the federal land management agencies under current law to deal with climate change and the threats it poses to federal lands and resources and to protect the incalculable value they contribute to society. Part II of the Article summarizes three categories of impacts climate change is having or is expected to have on federal lands and resources: physical, biological, and socio-economic. Part III expands on the scientific paradigm shift from an equilibrium to a disequilibrium model and the relevance of that shift to the importance of striving to achieve resilience as a resource management technique. It also describes the existing statutory framework under which the federal government manages its rich natural resource heritage and the extent to which that framework may authorize the land management agencies to anticipate and respond to climate change. In particular, it assesses whether the organic statutes of the land management agencies delegate to them sufficient authority to promote resilience in the natural resources they control. That discussion highlights deficiencies in the nature, scope, and implementation of existing legislation. Part IV re-conceives the legal framework for managing the public lands. It makes ten general recommendations for changing either the statutes or the manner in which they are implemented to strengthen the capacity of the federal land management agencies to mitigate the impacts of climate change and avoid disruption or collapse of ecosystems in the face of it. The recommendations are designed to ensure that the land management agencies have ample authority to protect the resources for which they are responsible by managing them in an adaptive fashion, to promote ecosystem resilience and enhance their capacity to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Part IV also includes several examples of the kinds of protective measures that the recommendations will facilitate.
Robert L. Glicksman,
Ecosystem Resilience to Disruptions Linked to Global Climate Change: An Adaptive Approach to Federal Land Management,
87 Neb. L. Rev.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/nlr/vol87/iss4/1