Populations of many cold-water species are likely to decline this century with global warming, but declines will vary spatially and some populations will persist even under extreme climate change scenarios. Especially cold habitats could provide important refugia from both future environmental change and invasions by non-native species that prefer warmer waters. The Climate Shield website hosts geospatial data and related information that describes specific locations of cold-water refuge streams for native Cutthroat Trout and Bull Trout across the American West. Forecasts about the locations of refugia could enable the protection of key watersheds, be used to rally support among multiple stakeholders, and provide a foundation for planning climate-smart conservation networks that improve the odds of preserving native trout populations through the 21st century. These data are available for three scenarios: historical (1970–1999), mid-century (2030–2059), and end-of-century (2070–2099).
Climate Shield was inspired by the landscapes of the Rocky Mountains and people everywhere that are working to preserve native trout. The Northern Rockies Adaptation Partnership provided a valuable forum that accelerated this work. The Great Northern and North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperatives generously funded the NorWeST project, which serves as the foundation for Climate Shield.
Trout Unlimited developed the Idaho Water Transaction Tool for exploring restoration opportunities related to water diversions and USFS Climate Shield data. The tool has two components – a data visualization for querying and filtering watershed-scale data summaries across the state of Idaho, and a linked map viewer for exploring source datasets at the scale where projects occur.