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ARS Home » Plains Area » Fort Collins, Colorado » Center for Agricultural Resources Research » Rangeland Resources & Systems Research » Research » Research Project #445197

Research Project: Climate Mitigation Outreach and Education - Fort Collins

Location: Rangeland Resources & Systems Research

Project Number: 3012-12610-001-005-I
Project Type: Interagency Reimbursable Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2023
End Date: Sep 30, 2027

1. Build relationships with NRCS leadership, including State Conservationists, NRCS Climate Hub co-leads, and NRCS state office climate points of contact to develop a national framework to host locally relevant and meaningful climate mitigation conversations. 2. Provide information to increase NRCS climate literacy on climate-smart practices, with an emphasis on practices that provide benefits for greenhouse gas mitigation and co-benefits for adaptation and resilience. 3. Evaluate information gathered through the Climate Mitigation Conversations to identify mitigation challenges, barriers to adoption, knowledge gaps, and mitigation practice prioritization at state, regional, and national scales to direct phase 2 and 3 activities of this project. 4. Evaluate changes in climate literacy derived from the Climate Mitigation Conversations. 5. Share findings with NRCS leadership and broadly through the Climate Hub stakeholder network. 6. Identify and prioritize decision-support information and tools, based on information gathered through Phase 1 and other sources, which increase understanding and adoption of climate-smart mitigation practices in agriculture and forestry. 7. On the USDA Climate Hub website, create a web-based clearinghouse with climate mitigation decision support tools and information relevant to increasing the implementation of NRCS conservation practices with climate mitigation benefits. 8. Conduct a co-production approach to develop technical guide material and a mitigation guide process for NRCS field staff and partners, relevant at local and state levels, and focused on conservation practices that are most common and/or of greatest interest for climate mitigation. Development and implementation can leverage state technical committees and integrate with NRCS processes for conservation practice development and evaluation. 9. Help NRCS planners and partners understand the underlying science of common conservation practices, their potential to contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation, potential to provide other environmental or economic co-benefits, and appropriate context to maximize potential for implementation. 10. Identify major existing and emerging NRCS mitigation practices, known benefits, uncertainties, and information gaps. 11. Build topical teams to conduct regional syntheses on available science on the applicability, benefits, and risks of the mitigation practices. Note: practices may be similar across regions, but we will clarify when and where benefits and uncertainties may vary. 12. Use topical teams to identify research needs and ongoing research to address major uncertainties and gaps in knowledge on key existing or emerging mitigation practices. 13. Develop and lead collaborative research based on topical team findings. 14. Integrate this knowledge as it becomes available into regional syntheses. Incorporate regional syntheses into mitigation technical guides and into mitigation climate conversations and other materials as it becomes available.

In the initial phase, national and regional Hub staff will build upon the existing “Climate Conversations” program to develop a national framework that includes standard mechanisms for evaluation, shared key messages, and a toolkit of template materials for Climate Mitigation Conversations. These conversations will enhance climate literacy for NRCS staff and partners, offer a listening environment to gather questions and feedback, and foster discussion of how to accelerate the implementation of climate-smart practices. Hub staff will work with NRCS climate points of contact, Regional and State leaders, and Regional Hub NRCS co-leads to develop locally focused Climate Mitigation Conversations, assessing information regarding participant characteristics, climate, carbon, and GHG knowledge, and perceived challenges to implementing climate mitigation practices so that the Climate Mitigations Conversations effectively provide relevant information and resources. The second phase will involve the development of a curated suite of decision support tools and technical guides will be informed by relevant state/territory and sector level information gathered from the Phase 1 engagements with NRCS leadership and field staff in the state-level Climate Mitigation Conversations. These engagements, and other sources, will help prioritize which conservation practices (e.g., examples from the NRCS Climate-Smart Agriculture and Forestry [CSAF] Mitigation Activities List) to develop technical guides. In Phase 2, we will identify what specific types of information will be included as relevant to guide mitigation decisions in each state/territory. In some cases, specific tools and technical information may be relevant across several states, depending on the information available. In Phase 3, we propose to support Mitigation Fellows to build topical teams around a small set of specific common practices (e.g., cover crops, reduced and no-till management, nutrient management, grazing management, forest stand improvement, and other relevant conservation practices) in collaboration with USDA Agricultural Research Service and Forest Service to synthesize regional GHG mitigation information linked with NRCS conservation practice standards and evaluate practice potential by region. These syntheses and regional summaries will be incorporated into the mitigation technical guides, mitigation climate conversations, and other materials as available. Ultimately, this information could be integrated into and advance the suite of COMET tools.