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US Forest Service
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Chief's Vision on Climate Change

Responding to the challenges presented by climate change is one of the most urgent tasks facing the Forest Service. The Executive Leadership Team has approved the 16 recommendations for immediate action in 2008 that were discussed on November 28 at the National Leadership Team meeting.

The facts of climate change and the implications for forest management have become increasingly clear, thanks to the work of many scientists, including the Forest Service scientists who shared in the Nobel Prize for their work. As a science-based organization, we need to be aware of this information and to consider it any time we make a decision regarding resource management, technical assistance, business operations, or any other aspect of our mission. The immediate, high-priority actions are intended to help us insure that this happens in the normal course of program management and in the ongoing pursuit of our strategic goals and objectives.

One of our high-priority actions is the establishment of a Climate Council, which will include Associate Deputy Chiefs and the External Affairs Officer. I have asked Dave Cleaves and Fred Norbury to co-chair the Council. Among other things, they will have the task of preparing our agency strategy for action for 2009 and beyond. I expect all units to cooperate fully with the Climate Council in the preparation of this strategy, and with the Council’s work to guide the completion of the action items and resolve any issues that may arise with respect to reallocation of resources.

I also expect the Climate Council to help us coordinate our communication, nationally and internationally, on how responding to climate change is an essential part of our efforts to support sustainable management for American forests, public and private.

I want to acknowledge all the efforts to respond to the challenges of climate change that are already occurring in the field. In particular, I appreciate the work that the Interregional Environmental Management Coordinating Group (IREMCG) has done in describing some of the high priority actions that need to be accomplished in the near term, and I expect the individuals assigned responsibility for related actions to take advantage of the work that the IREMCG has done.

I believe history will judge the leaders of our age by how well we respond to climate change. We have leaders at every level of the Forest Service who have already recognized the seriousness of the climate challenge and the urgent need for action, and they are already acting. It is time to reinforce these individual leaders with a coordinated, agency-wide response to climate change. I ask for your help in bringing that about.

Abigail R. Kimbell, Chief
February 15, 2008 letter to Forest Service National Leadership Team



(Responsible individuals and dates, where appropriate, shown in parentheses)


1. These actions continue throughout the year:

Sustainable Ops
R&D climate research
IP work on climate change
“More Kids in the Woods” with climate component
Exploration of carbon and ecosystem services markets
Exploration of certification

2. These actions will be completed this year:

Biomass strategy
Restoration policy
Interim guidance on FS participation in carbon projects and markets

Actions Needed

Internal Communications

1.  Create and complete implementation of an employee education and awareness program, to reach all employees this year.

External Relationships

2.  Ensure forestry is appropriately included in regional and state climate plans and programs.

3.  Appoint ID Teams to support FS participants in regional and state climate planning processes.

4.  Participate in CCX technical committees.

Internal management

5.  Create science syntheses and assessments of climate change to support forest plan revisions and projects.

6.  Provide guidance for field units on how to treat climate change in project planning and NEPA document.

7.  Provide guidance for field units on how to treat climate change in forest plan revision.

8.  Create a companion document for the Strategic Plan to describe the relationship between climate change and the goals and measure in the plan.

9.  Include guidance on responding to climate change in initial and final PBA for 09.

Preparing for the future

10.  Identify and initiate more demo projects for carbon and ecosystem services markets.

11.  Draft a staff paper on concepts for inclusion of forestry in climate change legislation at the federal level.

12.  Describe the climate component of the program of work of the eastern and western threat assessment centers.

External Communication

13.  Develop and implement an overall communications strategy on climate change for the agency.

14.  Develop additional explanatory material for the Chief’s proposed climate goals—carbon sequestration and biofuels.

15.  Create a Climate Council at the WO level, with a supporting technical team charged with monitoring and assessing the agency response to climate change.

16.  Develop a long run climate change strategy for 2009 and beyond.

US Forest Service
Last modified March 28, 2013

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