GREATER YELLOWSTONE COALITION
America's Voice for a Greater Yellowstone!
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GYC strongly supports legislation that is introduced in the U.S. Congress, calling for protections for East Rosebud Creek, a spectacular stream that rushes off the granite shoulders of the Beartooth Mountains through undulating ranchlands. East Rosebud is a stronghold for native cutthroat trout.

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GYC report: Greater Yellowstone in Peril

Overview: In an effort to document the changes already underway and summarize what scientists have predicted is likely to occur in the future, the first-ever comprehensive report on climate change effects in Greater Yellowstone has been released by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and Greater Yellowstone Coalition. 

Dying whitebark pine, lower and warmer streamflow, shrinking glaciers. These things are occurring throughout the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, threatening the region’s iconic and treasured wildlife. The report also outlines what can be done to give fish and wildlife a better chance to survive as changes occur.

Greater Yellowstone in Peril: The Threats of Climate Disruption,” offers a view of what the region is likely to experience if emissions of heat-trapping gases are not reduced in the near future. Key findings in the report include:

   * The last decade is the hottest on record and was 1.4 degrees above the regions’ 20th century average, and above the global average of 1.0 degree. Summers in the past decade averaged 2.3 degrees hotter.
    * Whitebark pine, the dominant tree species of the region’s highest forests, is already in steep decline. The warmer climate has allowed an unprecedented epidemic of tree-killing mountain pine beetles in high-elevation forests which, historically have been too cold for widespread beetle outbreaks.
    * Spring snowpack and glaciers have diminished and snowmelt is occurring earlier. Regional snowpacks in recent decades have been the lowest since the middle of the 13th century.
    * Two of three climate models project that with medium-high future emissions of air pollutants that aspens would suffer dramatic declines in Greater Yellowstone and be almost totally eliminated by late in the century; a third model suggests some, but a far less drastic, decline.
    * Greater Yellowstone is likely to experience a major reduction of its world-renowned native cutthroat trout as well as substantial impacts on grizzly bears, wolverines, lynx and other wildlife for which Greater Yellowstone is renowned.

A hotter climate is an unprecedented threat to the world’s first national park and the lands that surround it. However, we still have time to make important choices that will influence how climate change affects Greater Yellowstone’s iconic fish and wildlife. Protecting the ability of wildlife to move and migrate, and restoring degraded habitats to increase resilience to change, are tangible ways today that we can give species a better chance to adapt and survive as temperatures warm.

Specifically, we seek to reduce existing stressors to habitat and wildlife; protect and enhance water quality and quantity; protect and enable natural movement and migration of wildlife; improve our capacity to predict future changes and extreme events; manage collaboratively at the ecosystem level; and employ careful, well-informed interventions or treatments.

Goals: GYC is working to ensure the iconic fish and wildlife of Greater Yellowstone have the best chance possible to adapt and survive as changes in climate occur.

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OVERVIEW
  • Greater Yellowstone is warming and impacts to key species such as grizzly bears, whitebark pine and cutthroat trout are occurring.
  • If emissions of heat-trapping pollutants continue, the region’s summers could be 9.7 degrees hotter by the end of the century.
  • Visitor experience is likely to be affected as habitats and species respond to warming temperatures and extreme events such as wildfire and flooding become more common.
  • The worst impacts can be avoided if we reduce emissions now and continue to protect and restore critical wildlife habitat.

Contact
Scott Christensen, Conservation Director

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