Feds Plan for Climate Change Impact

July 21, 2014 Tom Joseph
HARRISBURG - The National Park Service is making plans to prepare for and react to the effects of climate change at parks in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, say department officials.

Nicholas Fisichelli, Park Service ecologist, cited his recent study showing most national parks are getting warmer.

"235 of 289 parks have recent temperatures that are warmer than 95 percent of the range of average temperatures experienced since 1901," explained Fisichelli.

He added that warmer weather increases the risk of wildfires and invites more invasive species, both of which mean greater struggles for wildlife in the parks.

He said the National Park Service can prepare for, but not change the reality of climate change.

"We can try to resist some changes," Fisichelli said. "Others we're going to have to adapt to, and alter the way that parks may operate. Or what visitors see, and when they see it, within parks."

For example, he said warmer summer temperatures may mean earlier and later visitor peaks, if the summers become too hot to attract people.

Fisichelli said research shows that human-caused pollution is a main cause of climate change. He cited this year's National Climate Assessment, which concluded that temperatures in the mid-Atlantic region will continue to rise.

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