Climate Change Impacts

San Juan NF
Key projected climate change impacts were identified by the project team for the San Juan National Forest ASCC site. Photo Credit: Molly Roske 

Key projected climate change impacts that the project team considered for the San Juan National Forest include: 

  • A warming trend and increased average annual temperatures 
  • Variable precipitation patterns with decreased snowpack and earlier snowmelt and peak runoffs 
  • Increased drought that may drive fires and insect outbreaks 
  • The relative proportions of component species may change 

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

Challenges

  • The dense understory of white fir and Gambel oak currently acts as ladder fuels contributing to wildfire hazard in the area 
  • The forest has been subjected to a range of insects and diseases, such as western pine beetle, fir engraver, Douglas-fir beetle, root disease, and dwarf mistletoe 

Opportunities

  • Interactions of climate change, fire, drought, and insect outbreaks may lead to changes in species dominance for novel species 
  • Increasing structural heterogeneity will break up fuels and reduce the chance of large, catastrophic wildfires