Effects of climate change projected this century for Oregon's Upper Willamette River Basin, including Eugene-Springfield, will threaten water supplies, buildings, transportation systems, human health, forests, and fish and wildlife, according to a report produced by the University of Oregon's Climate Leadership Initiative and the National Center for Conservation Science & Policy.
The authors say that extensive efforts should begin now to prepare for these threats.
The 2.1 million-acre upper basin stretches from the headwaters of the McKenzie and Willamette rivers to where they join as one flowing north to the Columbia. The basin is home to $32 billion in taxable property, with 94 percent of it in Lane County's two side-by-side cities, which together make up the state's second-largest urban area. More than 33,000 acres of the 47,600 acres of taxable lots in the basin are located in floodplains, as are many buildings, roads and other infrastructure. Intense weather events, such as flooding, will put these properties at elevated risks for losses.
The heavily forested basin spans four major sub basins -- The McKenzie, Mohawk, Middle Fork Willamette and Coast Fork Willamette -- and borders the Coast Mountain Range to the west and the headwaters of the Cascade Mountains to the east. Other cities in the watershed are Oakridge, Cottage Grove, Westfir, Marcola, Lowell, Santa Clara and Creswell.
Consequences for human health from increases in ground-level ozone, according to the report, will be more allergens and degraded air quality, potentially raising rates of asthma and other respiratory problems. Increasing temperatures will mean more risk from insect-borne diseases such as West Nile from mosquitoes and Lyme disease from ticks, as well as the risk of increased heat stroke and cardiovascular problems, especially for people without access to air conditioning.
"Our research indicates that the effects of climate likely will p
|Contact: Jim Barlow|
University of Oregon