Abstract

Many rural communities in the Western United States are surrounded by public lands and are dependent on these landscapes for their livelihoods. Climate change threatens to effect land-based livelihoods, both through direct impacts and public land agency decision-making in response to impacts. This project was designed to understand how Bureau of Land Management (BLM) permittees, including ranching and recreation-based businesses, in Colorado are vulnerable to both climate change and management responses and how permittees and the BLM are and could adapt to these changes. Sixty interviews were conducted in two BLM field offices to gather permittee and agency employees’ observations of change, impacts, responses and suggestions for adaptive actions. Data suggested that permittees are dependent on BLM lands, sensitive to ecological and management changes, and that current management policies and structures are often a constraint to adaptation. Managers and permittees are already seeing synergistic impacts, and the BLM has capacity to facilitate or constrain adaptation actions. Participants suggested increased flexibility at all scales, timelier within season adjustments, and extension of current collaborative efforts to assist adaptation efforts and reduce impacts to these livelihoods.

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