Climate-smart grantmaking in Oregon

Year: 2022
Presenter/s: Jessi Kershner
Symposium Session: 2022 - 01 Addressing Climate Science + Environmental Justice
Topics covered: climate change, estuary, fish-salmon, and permits


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Watershed restoration and protection projects provide many climate benefits, both directly and indirectly. Addressing climate change requires a coordinated approach among funders, restoration practitioners, and scientific experts, to ensure watershed restoration and conservation are planned and implemented in ways that mitigate for or adapt to climate change. In Oregon, the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) provides grants for monitoring, planning, and restoration actions. OWEB has initiated work to ensure climate change considerations are a key part of these actions. A summary of recent efforts will be presented to describe how OWEB is incorporating and addressing the challenges of climate change.
In 2021, OWEB assisted the Oregon Global Warming Commission with developing a proposal for enhanced carbon sequestration on Oregon’s natural and working lands. The proposal included broad public and stakeholder outreach, resulting in a series of specific recommendations to enhance and account for carbon sequestration for the first time. Key recommendations for how state agencies can advance carbon sequestration and data inventory in the land sector will be shared, including data gaps and research needs.

The Board intends to account for climate resilience, adaptation, mitigation, and co-benefits more directly in the agency’s grant-making and has identified a need to help local partners find climate-related information to understand how climate change could impact projects funded by OWEB. Several of the agency’s grant applications now include questions about climate considerations for proposed project designs, potential barriers to incorporating climate considerations, and solutions to these barriers. The presentation will include a summary of responses and demonstrate how that information will help guide the development of additional resources for applicants.

To assist applicants with the new climate questions, OWEB is providing technical resources on anticipated climate impacts on Oregon’s watersheds and potential climate benefits from OWEB project activities. The purpose is to summarize select information and make available interactive climate planning tools to assist applicants find information relevant to their project area. These technical resources will be updated as new information becomes available. Examples of these technical resources will be highlighted.

Finally, we will demonstrate how OWEB’s monitoring investments have contributed science towards answering climate related questions. These investments cover a wide range of topics and ecoregions, from monitoring ocean acidification and hypoxia conditions in the Tillamook Bay to measuring blue carbon storage in tidal wetland restoration projects along the Oregon Coast. In addition, OWEB’s monitoring investments have contributed towards the development of tools to plan restoration projects. For example, tools have been developed that examine the potential for riparian restoration to mitigate temperature increases in a warming climate and to help plan and prioritize tidal wetland habitat conservation into the future.

OWEB will use the information generated from all of these efforts to help our grantees address climate change when planning future restoration actions, understand how these actions are contributing to the state’s climate goals and to continue to develop technical resources for applicants.