North Rim Ranches Climate Change Adaptation Plan - northern Arizona

This report from the Grand Canyon Trust presents a landscape-scale climate change adaptation plan for the North Rim Ranches. This area north of the Grand Canyon National Park is defined by livestock grazing permits held by the Trust that comprises 830,000 acres of predominantly USFS and BLM public lands in the southern Colorado Plateau in northern Arizona. With a mission to protect and restore the Colorado Plateau, the Grand Canyon Trust created this plan to guide the integration of climate adaptation into their conservation planning and livestock management. With hotter temperatures, variable precipitation, and more severe droughts and wildfires facing the region, this plan can serve as a foundation for collaborative adaptation among agency, ranching, and research partners of the North Rim Ranches.

The plan maps the area’s climate change vulnerability using a regionally-downscaled climate model and following the vulnerability assessment framework described in Scanning the Conservation Horizon: A Guide to Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment. 

The plan discusses seven impact scenarios based on environmental and land-use stresses exacerbated by climate change, including:

- reduced water availability

- reduced vegetation productivity

- community composition shifts and species loss

- increased risk of invasive species spread

- increased risk of unnaturally severe wildfire

- reduced landscape connectivity

- increased livestock management challenges

Adaptation recommendations for each impact scenario are presented along with some specific adaptation actions. Examples of some of the recommendations and associated actions include:

  • Protect water resources from environmental and land-use stresses by maintaining fencing around water sources, managing recreation around springs, and repairing existing pipelines
  • Coordinate with land managers to implement climate-focused forest management including maintaining structural diversity and increasing understory diversity to reduce wildfire risk
  • Restore historical fire regimes to fire-adapted ecosystems through forest thinning and prescribed burning to maintain resilient habitats
  • Identify tools and practices that support climate-conscious livestock management to allow for rapid and effective decisions on livestock grazing that respond to climatic and environmental changes

The plan concludes with general guidelines for monitoring climate-specific, ecological, and rangeland health indicators tied to specific adaptation actions, as well as guidance for building partner and public support for implementing the plan.


Publication Date: 2016

Author or Affiliated User:

  • Cerissa Hoglander


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Adaptation plan

States Affected:


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