Assessing US National Park Service Manager Perceptions and Use of Climate Change Information
Natalie Bennett, PhD Student
Research has shown that decision-makers struggle with uncertainty around climate change. This holds true for managers within the US National Park Service, who are responsible for navigating changing ecological conditions and uncertainty and safeguarding unique natural and cultural resources. Climate change-related risks are already impacting parks across the country, as seen through recent extreme flooding at Yellowstone National Park and wildfire at Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. The National Park Service Climate Change Response Program (CCRP) provides park managers with downscaled, forward looking climate change information specific to parks, alongside guidance on applying this information to address uncertainty. Questions remain, however, as to how park managers are using this information and how CCRP can best communicate climate projection data to park manager audiences. Through semi-structured interviews with staff across several parks, we explored manager climate change information and communication needs and their use of climate change information in planning. We also queried how the delivery of climate change information and projection data inform manager perceptions around climate change risk, complexity, efficacy, and hopefulness. Our findings indicate best practices for CCRP and other organizations for communicating complex climate-related information to manager audiences to inform decision-making.