Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Policy 5408: Addressing the Risks of Climate Change

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) established a policy in March of 2017 stating that WDFW will manage its operations and assets so as to better understand, mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The policy provides guidance for managing risks to agency investments due to climate impacts, such as upgrades to agency infrastructure to be more climate ready, and investing in land acquisitions that support ecosystem resilience. WDFW states that this policy demonstrates their leadership on the issue of climate change - specifically as they are integrating the science necessary to understand climate risks, proactively responding to those risks, and reducing their own carbon footprint.

To assess and manage climate risks and projected impacts on WDFW investments, the agency will pursue “aspirational goals” in the following 10 activity areas, and modify projects when feasible to minimize those risks.  (Language here is paraphrased from the policy statement)

1. Strategic Planning: Agency strategic plans and business plans will consider climate change impacts when developing and prioritizing strategies and actions.

2. Resource Planning: Augment all existing resource planning initiatives and documents with climate response actions - which includes wildlife area management plans, habitat conservation plans, the State Wildlife Action Plan, species recovery plans, game management plans, hatchery management plans, harvest management plans and salmon recovery initiatives.

3. Agency Facilities and Infrastructure: WDFW will address climate impacts on existing facilities and infrastructure as well as new infrastructure, and implement siting, design, and construction; so as to avoid or minimize anticipated climate change impacts, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions

4. Land Acquisition: WDFW will assess how current habitat values associated with proposed acquisitions may be impacted by climate change over time; and identify landscape or site-level characteristics that support long-term ecosystem resilience for decision-making.

5. Land Management: Assess how climate change will impact land management objectives and factor findings into decisions, including prioritization of activities and project designs.

6. Technical Assistance: Incorporate guidance on minimizing or developing appropriate responses to climate-change impacts to fish and wildlife habitats into technical assistance activities.

7. Grants: WDFW will require that grant proposals for funds awarded by WDFW explain how the project will assess and account for climate change impacts that may adversely affect the project’s success or potential to impact WDFW infrastructure.

8. Outreach:

A. WDFW will inform the public and other agencies about the risks climate change poses to fish and wildlife resources, and advocate for addressing the risks of climate change in collaborative investments (i.e., lands, facilities and planning initiatives)

B. WDFW will proactively advance policy that addresses impacts to fish and wildlife from large-scale efforts to mitigate or adapt to climate change, such as policy related to large-scale climate resiliency infrastructure or large-scale low-carbon energy infrastructure.

9. Regulatory Processes: the Agency Climate Change Coordinator will work with a team of program representatives to determine how climate change affects agency regulatory programs

10. WDFW Carbon Footprint: the Agency will identify and implement practicable opportunities for GHG reduction.


WDFW is also adopting  principles from the National Wildlife Federation’s Climate Smart Conservation guidebook for their day to day operations. These principles articulate the features of a “climate-ready” organization, in addition to representing the climate adaptive actions that can support wildlife and habitat conservation. These Climate Smart principles are:

A. Invest in needed capacity.

B. Embrace forward looking goals.

C. Consider broader landscape context.

D. Manage for interactions of multiple stressors.

E. Adopt strategies robust to uncertainty.

F. Account for climate influence on project success.

G. Employ agile and informed management.

H. Safeguard people and nature.


Publication Date: March 10, 2017

Related Organizations:

  • Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Agency guidance/policy

States Affected:

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