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Building Resilience in the Upper Delaware River Region

A new climate change adaptation guide from the Pinchot Institute and the Common Waters Partnership. Download a PDF or request a copy in the mail. An excerpt from the report is below.

Building Resilience in the Upper Delaware River Region Opinions differ about the underlying causes of climate change, but the earth’s climate is indeed changing. Residents of the Upper Delaware River region are already experiencing these changes.

This guide addresses the critical need to build local community resilience against the impacts of climate change. Implementing the plan’s recommendations will lead to communities that can better withstand impacts of change upon their natural resources and economies in the decades to come. These are “no regrets” solutions—they are beneficial regardless of what the future brings, but particularly important in the context of a changing climate. The most costly thing we can do is nothing.

Build Resilience
Local governments are on the front lines of managing the impacts associated with natural hazards. As problems such as increased flooding, extreme heat, drought, and other major weather events become more frequent, local budgets and infrastructure will be strained, putting more people and property at risk. We can build climate resilience in local communities through effective adaptation strategies that sustain forest and water resources and promote economic stability.

Focus on “No Regrets” Actions
While we cannot know the exact course of climate change, the Upper Delaware River region can:

  • Make adaptation to climate change an integral part of existing planning efforts
  • Keep people safer by strengthening disaster preparedness
  • Reduce risks, protect assets, and save money
  • Safeguard the forest and water resources that support our economy

Delaware River at Pike County-Sullivan County line. Nicholas A. Tonelli CC BY 2.0

Opportunities for Local Governments
Risks to forests, waters, and economies could be reduced by implementing land use policies that focus on maintaining existing forest cover, reducing forest fragmentation, keeping impervious cover at reasonable levels, and taking full advantage of the ecosystem services provided by floodplains and riparian corridors. Local governments in the region have primary responsibility for the land use decisions that can ultimately make communities less vulnerable and more economically resilient to environmental changes. Although it is a challenge to coordinate land use policy in a region that includes three states, seven counties, and hundreds of municipalities, this strategy has great potential for far-reaching climate resiliency benefits.

  • Work with forest landowners and forestry professionals to implement forest management practices that improve forest health and diversity
  • Support forest-dependent industries including travel, tourism, and recreation as well as the forest products and services sectors
  • Improve tax incentives to recognize the many values of forest lands and to help landowners keep forests as forests
  • Engage the basin’s water users in investing in source water protection and land and water resources conservation in the Upper Basin
  • Improve floodplain and stormwater management standards to reduce risks to people, property, and infrastructure
  • Leverage cooperative conservation efforts already underway in the region and use available funding strategically to conserve priority landscapes

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In 2013, the Model Forest Policy Program (MFPP), the Cumberland River Compact, Headwaters Economics, the Common Waters Partnership, and the Pinchot Institute for Conservation came together to create a climate adaptation plan for the communities of the Upper Delaware River region through a program called Climate Solutions University. The resulting publication, Adapting to a Changing Climate: Risks & Opportunities for the Upper Delaware River Region, identifies areas where the region may be vulnerable to the effects of climate change and suggests adaptation strategies to address those impacts that cannot be prevented.

 
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