Adaptation Examples in the Northwest
Adaptation Examples in the Northwest
On This Page
- Olympia, Washington plans for sea level rise
- The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community protects economic and cultural resources from the impacts of climate change
- King County, Washington releases a Climate Action Plan
- The City of Olympia, Washington, is planning for the effects of sea level rise by developing new flood maps and assessing the potential impacts on stormwater infrastructure.
- The Swinomish Tribe in Washington developed a Climate Adaptation Action Plan to help preserve their culture, economic opportunities, and environmental resources in the face of rising sea level and more frequent wildfires.
- King County, Washington developed a Climate Action Plan that aims to consider climate across a range of decisions, especially those related to infrastructure and transportation.
- Oregon and Washington established state adaptation frameworks to help local government address climate change impacts.
Reports and Related Links
- State of Oregon: The Governor's Climate Change Integration Group Final Report to the Governor: A Framework for Addressing Rapid Climate Change (PDF)
- Oregon Coastal Management Program: Climate Ready Communities: A Strategy for Adapting to Impacts of Climate Change on the Oregon Coast (PDF)
- Oregon Department of Transportation: Climate Change Adaptation
- State of Washington Department of Ecology: Preparing for the Impacts of Climate Change
- Washington State Department of Natural Resources: Climate Change Adaptation
- City of Olympia: Sea Level Rise Response (PDF)
- City of Spokane: Sustainability Action Plan: Addressing Climate Mitigation, Climate Adaptation, And Energy Security (PDF)
- Swinomish Indian Tribal Community: Swinomish Climate Change Initiative Climate Adaptation Action Plan (PDF)
- Idaho Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR): Water Resources in a Changing Climate
- The Wilderness Society: Facilitating Climate Change Adaptation in Idaho (PDF)
Federal and Regional
- EPA Region 10 (including the Northwest states of ID, OR, and WA
- EPA Region 10 Strategic Endeavor for Clean Energy and Climate Change
- EPA Climate Ready Estuaries
- Western Governors' Association: Initiative on Climate Change and Adaptation
- Center for Clean Air Policy: Urban Climate Adaptation
- University of Idaho: Regional Approaches to Climate Change in Pacific Northwest Agriculture (REACCH)
- Georgetown Climate Center: Adaptation Clearinghouse
- NRC America's Climate Choices Reports
Efforts to prepare for climate change are underway in the Northwest. Many local and regional groups are already taking actions to adapt to projected declines in snowpack, streamflow changes, and sea level rise. Learn more about climate change impacts in the Northwest in the Northwest Impacts section.
Below are examples of ongoing efforts to adapt to climate change impacts in the Northwest. Following the examples, there are links to a number of adaptation plans, reports, and studies specific to the region. Both the examples and links are intended to be illustrative — they are not intended to be comprehensive.
Olympia, Washington plans for sea level rise
In 2007, the Olympia City Council renewed its efforts to address climate change and sea level rise. According to a presentation by the City (PDF), the city has gathered more accurate information about land elevations; created maps that illustrate potential high tides, storm events, and sea level rise; assessed the impacts of sea level rise on infrastructure and stormwater systems; and monitored changes in geology that would increase relative sea level rise.
For more information about the impacts of sea level rise in the Northwest, visit the Northwest Impacts section. For more information about adaptation strategies to deal with sea level rise and storm surges, please visit the Coasts Impacts & Adaptation page.
The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community protects economic and cultural resources from the impacts of climate change
The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community includes approximately 3,000 people from several Coast Salish groups that live on roughly 10,350 acres of tidelands, forested uplands, rural areas, and urban development in western Washington. In 2009, with the technical assistance of the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group, the Tribe released the Swinomish Climate Change Initiative Impact Assessment Technical Report (PDF).
The Swinomish Climate Adaptation Action Plan (PDF) proposed strategies to address risks associated with forest fires and to inundation of coastal resources. Strategies included improvements to forest management policies and practices and a variety of options for protecting costal structures or requiring development to occur farther away from the coast.
For more information about adaptation strategies for coastal communities, visit the Coasts Impacts & Adaptation page. For more information about adaptation strategies for wildfires, visit the Forests Impacts & Adaptation page.
King County, Washington releases a Climate Action Plan
King County developed a Climate Action Plan (PDF) that discusses adaptation. The County also released a guidebook (PDF) to assist local, regional, and state governments in preparing for climate change.
To protect regional transportation infrastructure, the County has begun evaluating higher flows for bridges and culverts (structures commonly placed under roads to allow water to flow) and implementing educational efforts to facilitate sharing information among staff. The County is slated to train road services staff in climate change adaptation measures.  For more information about adaptation strategies for transportation systems, visit the Transportation Impacts & Adaptation page.
The State of Oregon builds a Climate Change Adaptation Framework
In 2010, the State of Oregon released the Oregon Climate Change Adaptation Framework (PDF). The Framework provides a method for local governments and agencies to assess projected impacts and evaluate various adaptation strategies. The Framework highlights important likely impacts and offers some guidance for identifying risks, short-term priority actions, and ways to implement decisions. It was developed along with the Oregon Climate Assessment Report (PDF), which identifies the likely impacts of climate change in Oregon. In addition, the Oregon Coastal Management Program released Climate Ready Communities (PDF) in 2009, which provides specific guidance for coastal communities.
Portland considers facility expansion due to future water supply and demand scenarios
In Portland, Oregon, most precipitation falls during the winter months. The greatest challenge for the Portland Water Bureau is supplying water during the summer months, when demand is double average daily use.  Using climate model projections, the utility generated future scenarios of water supply and demand, with consistent results including increased winter precipitation, earlier snowmelt, and drier summers.  The projected supply and demand scenarios would result in a 2.8-5.4 billon gallon decrease in reservoir storage.  To make up this deficit the utility is considering expanding groundwater supply or surface water storage.
 City of Olympia Public Works Department (1993). Preliminary Assessment of Sea Level Rise in Olympia, Washington: Technical and Policy Implications (PDF). City of Olympia Public Works Department.
 King County (2007). 2007 King County Climate Action Plan (PDF). King County.
 Miller, K., D. Yates (2006). Climate Change and Water Resources: a Primer for Municipal Water Providers (PDF). American Water Works Association, Denver, CO, USA.
 Palmer, R., M. Hahn (2002). The Impacts of Climate Change on Portlands Water Supply: An Investigation of Potential Hydrologic and Management Impacts on the Bull Run System (PDF). Portland Water Bureau.