/ Modified jul 11, 2016 9:25 a.m.

Grand Canyon Trust Creates Plan for Climate Change

'Southwest right in climate crosshairs ... a hotspot of projected change,' official says.

The Grand Canyon spot The Grand Canyon in northern Arizona.

By Melissa Sevigny, Arizona Science Desk

A Grand Canyon conservation group has released the first-ever climate change plan for the region, prioritizing issues such as increasing risk of drought and wildfire.

The plan, written by the Grand Canyon Trust, covers more than 800,000 acres on the canyon’s North Rim. The nonprofit group holds cattle grazing permits there.

The group’s Ed Grumbine said the trust wanted to prepare a management plan that addresses climate change.

"Since the Southwest is right in the climate crosshairs as a hotspot of projected change and current change … we realized that if we wanted to continue our operation and continue our conservation and ranching goals into the future, then we had to deal with climate," Grumbine said.

The plan assesses vulnerabilities and makes recommendations for dealing with the risk of forest fire, reduced water supplies, and changes in vegetation.

Ariel Leonard, forest planner for the Kaibab National Forest, said it is valuable to have site-specific plans.

"Just having a starting point where we can say, we all agree about these themes, then we can take the conversation the next step further to say, and how does that translate into specific management actions?" Leonard said.

The first stage of the plan will be an inventory of water sources on the North Rim critical for wildlife and livestock.

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