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4/14/2009

Warming could devastate parks

National parks provide recreation, wildlife habitats and natural beauty that could be lost if officials don't act quickly to safeguard these reserves from the effects of climate change, experts told federal policymakers last week.

Rising temperatures and shifting weather patterns have the potential to cause "staggering" changes to federal lands, said Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., chairman of the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands.

"Science shows that climate change will cause a spread of invasive species, threaten native species, endanger watersheds, cause habitat loss and increase the intensity and length of the fire season on our public lands," Grijalva said Tuesday at a subcommittee hearing held near Joshua Tree National Park in California.

These aren't just future concerns, either, said Robert Keiter, an environmental-law expert at the University of Utah's S.J. Quinney College of Law.

"Many of (the parks) are already being impacted by climate change," Keiter told policymakers
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