Spring 2015
Climate Change and Conservation
From our Executive Director
Around the world, the devastating effects of climate change are boldly obvious and dramatic, with the frequent and severe storms and droughts of recent times.  Less visible, yet just as important, are the incremental shifts in our natural ecosystems' abilities to adapt to the changes in temperatures, weather patterns, and shifting movements of species and habitats.  As these changing patterns become "the new normal", Switzer Fellows are taking the pulse of natural systems while working with local, regional, national and international efforts to adapt, learn and change our societal patterns.  Read about Switzer Fellows' work to help protect the inherent beauty and power of this thin living mantle of life on earth, and understand the links between climate change adaptation and conservation.
Thinking Ahead about Climate Change in Sonoma County

Several of our Fellows work in Sonoma County in Northern California, which was recognized as a Climate Action Champion by the White House in 2014. Read about how our Fellows developed a test site for climate change impacts on local habitats and how they are preparing their community for a low-carbon future.

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Strengthening Resiliency
in Sierra Nevada Meadows

Invasive plants haven't reached California's Sierra meadows yet, but Fellow Doug Johnson says the warming climate makes their spread inevitable unless we act now. The implications for human populations in California is enormous, since the state depends on the region for much of its drinking water.

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Improving Aquatic Connectivity and Resiliency to Major Storms

Fellow Jessica Levine has been working, with help from a Switzer Leadership Grant, to develop better culverts for fish migration in the Adirondack region.  She discovered that additional benefits like storm resiliency helped her work with local stakeholders who are already feeling the impact of more powerful storms.

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Using Wetlands
to Mitigate Climate Change

Fellow Brenda Zollitsch sees wetlands as an important piece of climate change adaptation strategy, but recognizes the regulatory barriers to using them effectively. Her work, partially funded by a Switzer Leadership Grant, looks for ways to bridge the gap between stormwater and wetlands managers.

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Working Locally
on Climate Change Adaptation

Fellow Amber Pairis is focused on being a catalyst in her own community of San Diego, engaging people in climate change adaptation. Pairis feels that working on the hyperlocal level is her opportunity to make a significant impact in a short amount of time since, as she says, "we don't have the luxury of time to be idle."

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Bringing Climate Change into
Conservation Communications

Fellow Brad Keitt has been working to incorporate climate change into his communications about island extinctions around the world. While his focus has always been on invasive species' destruction of native species, now climate change threatens some of the places he works and holds dear.

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Putting Adaptation on the Agenda

Adaptation to climate change spent years in the shadow of its big brother, mitigation.  Fellow Lara Hansen has been working to change that with her non-profit EcoAdapt and is making real progress, with a huge national conference coming up next month.

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Other Fellows Working on Climate Change and Conservation

Jeff Collins (1997) is Director of Mass Audubon's Ecological Management Department, coordinating habitat management planning and activities on their wildlife sanctuaries as well as assisting conservation partners through their Ecological Extension Service.  He uses Rapid Ecological Assessments (REA) of all 97 properties owned by Mass Audubon to identify natural resources that need protection, threats to those resources, and steps they can take to minimize those threats.  He also sees the importance of including adaptation to climate change in the REAs, which requires better planning than was previously done.
Read more about REAs and climate change (PDF)
Read more about Mass Audubon's Ecological Management work

Lily Verdone (2005) is a Project Director for The Nature Conservancy's Los Angeles-Ventura Project where she works toward developing and implementing locally successful, broadly applicable conservation strategies, benefiting both people and nature.  Her work has been based on a traditional approach to conservation, focusing on buying large sections of landscape for conservation.  As more climate adaptation has been needed, her work has shifted to include natural infrastructure, especially along the coast, to protect people and property from erosion and storms.
Read more about The Nature Conservancy's work on coastal resilience

Ariane de Bremond (2000) is a Research Assistant Professor in Geographical Sciences at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she she studies land systems. Through her affiliation with the Joint Global Change Research Institute (PNNL/UMD) an additional vein of her work has focused on climate adaptation decision making, especially to understand the trade-offs between climate change adaptation, mitigation and development in developing countries.
Upcoming Events
2nd National Adaptation Forum
May 12-14, 2015 - St. Louis, Missouri

The National Adaptation Forum, developed by Switzer Fellow Lara Hansen's organization, EcoAdapt, is a biennial gathering of professionals from the private and public sectors concerned about the need to respond to and prepare for the effects of climate change.  The Forum represents a collective effort to enhance the resilience of the Nation's communities, resources and economy in the face of a changing climate.

Read more and register
Read a report by Fellow Lara Hansen about the inaugural National Adaptation Forum

Announcement of the 2015 Switzer Fellows
June 1, 2015
The Switzer Fellowship Program offers one-year Fellowships to highly talented graduate students in New England and California whose studies and career goals are directed toward environmental improvement and who clearly demonstrate leadership in their field. The Fellowship provides a $15,000 cash award for academic study, leadership training, access to a vibrant network of over 550 Switzer Fellowship alums, and opportunities for professional development during the Fellowship year and beyond.
Read about the 2014 Fellows

New England Fall Fellows' Retreat
September 18-20, 2015 - Warren Conference Center, Ashland, MA

California Fall Fellows' Retreat
October 2-4, 2015 - NatureBridge, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Sausalito, CA

30th Anniversary of the Switzer Foundation in 2016
The first class of Switzer Fellows was selected in 1986, and we are already making plans for how we'll celebrate our 30th anniversary in 2016.  Please stay tuned to the  Events page of our website for information about regional gatherings for Fellows and colleagues.
Recent Books by Switzer Fellows
Proactive Strategies for Protecting Species: Pre-Listing Conservation and the Endangered Species Act
by C. Josh Dolan (Editor), 1998 Fellow
"This book is an invitation to innovation, bristling with fresh ideas. Some suggestions may not work; others will surely move us forward. A must-read for those who are rethinking the future of the Endangered Species Act."
- Bruce Babbitt, former United States Secretary of the Interior

The Triumph of Seeds: How Grains, Nuts, Kernels, Pulses, and Pips Conquered the Plant Kingdom and Shaped Human History
by Thor Hanson, 1998 Fellow
"[T]he genius of Hanson's fascinating, inspiring and entertaining book stems from the fact that it is not about how all kinds of things grow from seeds; it is about the seeds themselves. Hanson...takes one of the least-impressive-looking natural objects and reveals a life of elegance and wonder.... Although he is a storyteller by nature, he also charms us with an infectious enthusiasm. The reader feels that Hanson cannot wait to tell us what comes next.... Like all good writers, he understands narrative - that a book, at its best, is a story, and that this one is built by spinning stories within stories. They are fun, sometimes they are funny, and they are always fascinating and readable.... [An] engaging book."
- Mark Kurlansky, New York Times Book Review

Who Rules the Earth?: How Social Rules Shape Our Planet and Our Lives
by Paul F. Steinberg, 1995 Fellow
"Revealing the hidden architecture of rules that must be changed to protect our planet, Steinberg offers a fresh perspective on how to achieve a sustainable future. Who Rules the Earth? will be a source of inspiration for anyone who wonders what more we can do to overcome our most daunting environmental challenges."
- Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Climate Peril: The Intelligent Reader's Guide to Understanding the Climate Crisis
by John J. Berger, 1988 Fellow

"Climate Peril should be required reading for the remaining climate skeptics - if, indeed, there remain any whose views are not shaped purely by the sources of their paychecks.  In the second volume of his trilogy, John Berger continues to probe the climate issue with unusual insight and clarity."

- Denis Hayes, Coordinator, Earth Day 1970 

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