Climate Change Impacts

Western larch forest in Northern Montana
Key projected climate change impacts were considered in developing treatments for the Flathead National Forest/Coram Experimental Forest.

Key projected climate change impacts that the project team considered in developing treatments for the Flathead National Forest/Coram Experimental Forest include: 

  • Uncertain precipitation patterns; expect drier in the summer and wetter in winter and spring 
  • Earlier snowpack melts 
  • Longer fire seasons with higher fire frequencies and severities
  • Increase in insect and disease outbreaks 

Climate change will present challenges and opportunities for accomplishing the management objectives of the Flathead National Forest including: 

Challenges 

  • Possible increase of wildfire in ecosystems where fire exclusion has led to an abundance of forest fuels and high crown fire hazard 
  • Western larch may decline in areas with lower water availability and declining groundwater flows 

Opportunities

  • Growth rates in western larch may increase if warmer temperatures coincide with more growing season precipitation 
  • Possible changes in species distribution due to an increase in the number of frost-free days and warmer conditions