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Idaho Climate Change Summit Highlights Wildfire, Wildlife And Water

Ted S. Warren
AP Images
The Blackerby Fire burns along a ridge after midnight Saturday, Aug. 13, 2005 near Grangeville, Idaho.

The first Idaho Climate Summit wraps up Friday in Boise. Keynote speaker Kate Gordon set the tone for the two-day event Thursday morning, making an economic case for Idahoans to heed the signs of climate change.

Gordon is a senior advisor with the Paulson Institute, a think tank that focuses on sustainable growth.

“Talking about climate change in terms of U.S. averages is like saying, ‘Well my feet are in the oven and my head is in the fridge. So I’m average, I’m good!’" says Gordon. "It doesn’t compute.”

She says rather than looking at national trends, it’s best to look at Idaho-specific risks.

Idaho Fish and Game Wildlife Program Coordinator Gregg Servheen spoke to some of the risks that come with a warming climate, including the interaction between wildfire and wildlife. Servheen says warmer winters might be good for elk, deer and other big game that have a better chance of surviving a more mild season. That sounds like a good thing, but there are some drawbacks:

“Land managers are having to close areas because of fire risk," says Servheen. "And so that closes out our sportsmen. So while on one level we have opportunity for them for more big game animals, on another level they’re potentially being closed out because of fires.”

Servheen says variability is one of the biggest problems that comes with climate change, making wildlife management less predictable.

Support for environmental reporting on Boise State Public Radio comes in part from the Larry & Pam Cardinale Preservation Fund.

Find reporter Frankie Barnhill on Twitter @FABarnhill

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