Seattle City Light Among Seven Recipients Presented with First Climate Adaption Leadership Award for Natural Resources

Seattle City Light won the inaugural Climate Adaptation Leadership Award for Natural Resources in the state/local category, the US Department of the Interior announced today.

City Light is being recognized for demonstrating exemplary leadership in reducing climate-related threats and adapting the management of hydropower resources to help ensure that the recovery and protection of fish and wildlife can be achieved in the face of climate change. The Award is sponsored by a group of federal agencies: the Department of the Interior (DOI), US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Forest Service (USFS), and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA). The Climate Leadership Award was established as part of the Obama Administration’s Priority Agenda for Enhancing the Climate Resilience of America’s Natural Resources.

City Light  was one of seven recipients of the new award, which recognizes the outstanding leadership by federal, local and state agencies; NGOs and individuals who develop innovative approaches to prevent changes that are affecting valuable wildlife and natural resources.

“Seattle City Light has been a national leader in working to build resiliency to the effects of climate change for more than a decade,” Mayor Ed Murray said. “City Light’s Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Plan is the most comprehensive effort by an electric utility to assess and prepare for the impacts of climate change. I applaud their work and encourage others to join in this important effort.”

City Light gets about 90 percent of its power from hydroelectric resources that depend on snowpack. Climate change that brings more rain and less snow could significantly impact City Light’s ability to generate power.

“Climate change is a threat to Seattle City Light’s ability to generate enough power year round to meet the needs of our customers and to manage our hydropower resources to protect fish and wildlife,” the utility’s environmental officer, Lynn Best, said. “That’s why we have been active in researching our potential vulnerabilities and developing adaptation strategies.”

The award was established as part of the Obama Administration’s Priority Agenda for Enhancing the Climate Resilience of America’s Natural Resources, which identifies key actions across the federal government to support resilience of America’s vital natural resources and the many people, businesses and communities that depend on them. The award is sponsored by the National Fish, Wildlife, and Plant Climate Adaptation Strategy’s Joint Implementation Working Group.

“Climate change is one of the greatest threats facing our natural resources and the communities that depend on them,” said Michael Bean, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Fish and Wildlife and Parks. “These recipients are using innovative tools right now to combat this global threat. Their leadership advances smart conservation and resource management approaches that will increase the resilience of our natural resources for our communities and economies.”

The recipients’ projects were selected from 47 nominations based on a criteria of effectiveness, innovative approach, high potential for replication, promotion of preparation and response, and collaboration. Each project represents activities from individuals and federal, tribal, state, local and non-governmental organizations from around the country.

The seven honorees are:

  • Environmental Affairs Division, Seattle City Light (state/local): Adapting the management of hydropower resources to help ensure that the recovery and protection of listed endangered species can be achieved in the face of climate change.
  • Northern Institute of Applied Climate Science, U.S. Forest Service (federal agency): Incorporating climate vulnerability into over 60 forest management projects across the Midwest, Central Appalachians and the Northeast.
  • Dan Isaak, U.S. Forest Service (federal individual): Prioritizing climate-informed conservation of aquatic species and habitats in the Western U.S. by mapping cold-water refuges that can support species at risk.
  • Swinomish Indian Tribal Community (tribal): Addressing climate risks by conducting vulnerability assessments, developing adaptation plans, and implementing on-the-ground adaptation actions for natural and cultural resources in the Pacific Northwest.
  • John R. “Jack” Sullivan, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (state/local individual): Championing adaptation actions such as watershed-level models of cold-water stream fishery potential and helped to establish the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts, the state’s leading climate adaptation organization.
  • National Wildlife Federation (NGO): Providing national leadership in advancing and promoting climate-smart conservation across the conservation community, particularly in the development of widely-used adaptation guidance for conservation practitioners.
  • Roundtable on the Crown of the Continent (NGO partnership): Catalyzing a landscape-scale, collaborative approach to the conservation of natural resources and adaptation actions across 18 million acres in Montana, Alberta and British Columbia.

“Given the magnitude, scope and variety of issues affecting our nation’s natural resources, working together and learning from one another is critical to creating workable solutions to ensure their sustainability,” said Dave Chanda, President of Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies. “This award spotlights outstanding efforts that are helping lead the way through innovative tools and actions towards climate-smart resource conservation and management. It will serve as a source of inspiration for additional efforts that advance climate-smart resource conservation and management.”

For more information about the 2016 Climate Adaptation Leadership Awards for Natural Resources, including the seven recipients, honorable mentions, and all 47 nominees, please visit the Climate Adaptation Leadership Award main page.

Seattle City Light is the 10th largest public electric utility in the United States. It has some of the lowest cost customer rates of any urban utility, providing reliable, renewable and environmentally responsible power to about 750,000 Seattle area residents. City Light has been greenhouse gas neutral since 2005, the first electric utility in the nation to achieve that distinction.