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Eugene-Springfield face Upper Willamette climate threats
Date:3/3/2009

owing conditions will foster shifts in the distribution of trees in forests and crops in gardens, orchards and vineyards.

Although total annual precipitation is not likely to change significantly, slightly less of it is projected to fall in spring, summer and fall, and higher evaporation rates and water demand resulting from warmer temperatures could mean significantly less water will be available. Snowpack across the region and entire Northwest is projected to suffer a 60 percent decline by 2040 and 90 percent by 2095.

For the Upper Willamette basin, only one model predicts an increase in acres burned by wildfires, although all models project more extreme fire in certain locations.

The projections are expected to have far-reaching impacts on stream flows, including both the Willamette and McKenzie rivers. Among these are changes to species habitats and the potential threats to both public water supplies for Eugene-Springfield and the levels of water required for generating electricity to meet rising demand in warmer temperatures.

Cold-water fish such as Chinook salmon, steelhead and Oregon chub could give way to more warm-water species, the report notes. Likewise, wildlife species that depend on old-growth forests in high elevations will be at risk.

"Increased winter storm intensity, prolonged and diminished flows in the summer, increased temperature, and poorer water quality are likely to be the most significant climate change risks to rivers and streams and the people, fish, amphibians and other species that rely on them," said Cindy Deacon Williams, senior fellow with the National Center for Conservation Science and Policy who co-managed the report. "This report identifies several critical actions to restore the landscape so the land itself can help us both resist damage from the changes coming our way and recover from the flood, drought, and fire damage that we can't avoid."

The assessment found that the ec
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Contact: Jim Barlow
jebarlow@uoregon.edu
541-346-3481
University of Oregon
Source:Eurekalert  

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