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Feds Plan for Climate Change Impact at Zion, All Nat'l. Parks

PHOTO: Summer heat has always been part of the Zion National Park experience, but the National Park Service says the impact of climate change is being felt around the park system and is taking steps to deal with its effects on wildlife and park visitors. Photo courtesy National Park Service.
PHOTO: Summer heat has always been part of the Zion National Park experience, but the National Park Service says the impact of climate change is being felt around the park system and is taking steps to deal with its effects on wildlife and park visitors. Photo courtesy National Park Service.
July 21, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY – The U.S. National Park Service says it's making plans to prepare and react to the effects of climate change at Zion National Park, and in all national parks.

Nicholas Fisichelli, an ecologist for the National Park Service, co-authored a recent study that shows that Zion, and the majority of national parks, are getting warmer.

"Two-hundred-35 out of 289 parks have recent temperatures that are warmer than 95 percent of the range of average temperatures experienced since 1901," he points out.

Fisichelli says research shows that human-caused pollution is a main cause of climate change, and cites the federal government's National Climate Assessment released earlier this year.

It concludes that as temperatures continue to rise, droughts in the West will be longer, prompting drier conditions that will cause more major wildfires.

Fisichelli says the National Park Service can't change the reality of climate change, but it can do its best to prepare for the changes that park visitors and wildlife will face.

" Climate change is likely to increase the risk of more major wildfires at Zion and Canyonlands, and other national parks in Utah,” he points out. “It also may invite more invasive species and means greater struggles for existing wildlife."

As an example, Fisichelli says warmer summer temperatures may mean an earlier visitor season at some parks, or a later season, if the summers become too hot to attract people at times when being outdoors is uncomfortable.




Troy Wilde, Public News Service - UT