A plan to combat climate change released by the Washington Department of Natural Resources calls for increasing the use of state lands to develop renewable energy and accelerating salmon and orca recovery efforts as part of a larger effort to curb carbon emissions, increase carbon sequestration and develop resiliency to a warming climate.

Released Feb. 20, the agency's Plan for Climate Resilience outlines priority responses on state lands in order to be prepared for impacts—including predictions for a 38 percent drop in April 1 snow-water equivalent, a 16 percent increase in winter streamflow and a 23 percent decrease in summer streamflow.

"This Plan is designed to address these changing conditions and ensure that DNR continues to fulfill its mission and responsibilities into the future," it says.

To help salmon and other species threatened by climate change, the plan says one of the most important actions is to reduce the negative impacts of existing non-climate-related stressors such as pollution or habitat degradation. It notes DNR manages 2.6 million acres of aquatic land, where protection and restoration are mandated. Some priority responses include promoting resilience of aquatic lands, researching use of eelgrass to suppress harmful algal blooms, assessing impacts of ocean acidification, and participating in work groups looking into carbon storage in aquatic areas. A large part of the plan calls for improving forest health, which would benefit watershed ecology.

The plan also promotes more leasing of state lands for renewable energy production. DNR currently manages leases involving more than 100 wind turbines that produce over 200 MW of power, and in 2019 entered into its first two leases for solar power installations totaling about 100 MW, the plan said. The agency has set a goal to lease lands producing 500 MW of new solar power by December 2023.

The agency also sells rights to forest residual biomass as a biofuel source, and is working to support increased use of forest biomass as a fossil-fuel alternative. It is exploring the potential of geothermal energy throughout the state.

DNR is also working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing wildfire risks, and fossil fuel emissions from its fleet of vehicles, aircraft and boats. Currently, 35 percent of its sedans are electric, and the rest are hybrids, the plan states.

K.C. Mehaffey covers fish issues for Clearing Up, and is editor of the NW Fishletter. She joined the NewsData writing team in February 2018. From lawsuits to scientific studies, she is enjoying the deep dive into the Columbia Basin's many fish topics.