Pacific Northwest streams will warm the most in the next 50 years, and where
would restoration work make a difference for salmon? Where will wildfires and
pests be most aggressive in forests as the Earth warms, and how can better
Indian tribes across the country are grappling with how to plan for a future
that balances inevitable change with protecting the resources vital to their
University of Washington Climate Impacts Group and regional tribal partners
have developed a collection of resources that may be useful to tribes at any
stage in the process of evaluating their vulnerability to climate change. The
project is a partnership among tribes, tribal associations, universities and
the federal government.
resources can be found at https://cig.uw.edu/resources/tribal-vulnerability-assessment-resources/.
work really is to support tribes’ leadership in climate adaptation, and the
goal is to make it easier for every tribe that wants to complete the process,”
said Meade Krosby, a research scientist at Climate Impacts Group and the
project lead. “This is a way to support the tribes that are leading the way,
but also to make sure those that are having a harder time getting started have
the resources to begin.”
new suite of resources is intended to support tribes in all phases of assessing
the possible impacts of climate change — in other words, how a warming world
might affect the things each tribe cares about most. The tools are tailored
geographically to each of the 84 tribes in the Pacific Northwest and Great
Basin regions of the western U.S., with the possibility to expand across the
resources, mainly online, include a climate tool that provides interactive
summaries of projected climate change on annual precipitation, stream
temperatures, growing season, fire danger and other variables. It also provides
links to resources such as guidebooks and sample climate assessments, and a
technical support line for tribal staff and members to call with any questions.
Both Western science and indigenous approaches that draw on traditional
ecological knowledge are featured in the resource toolkit.
other tools exist to help assess vulnerability to climate change, these
resources present information about future predictions in a user-friendly
format that focuses on areas of geographic importance to various tribes.
Project leaders spent considerable time testing the tools with tribal staff and
community members to make the resources more intuitive and responsive to their
needs, Krosby said.
is a way to get cutting-edge climate information directly into the hands of
tribes,” she said. “Overwhelmingly, the response among tribes has been
project began about two years ago after an initial assessment led by Don
Sampson, climate change project manager with the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest
Indians, in partnership with the Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center,
found that a number of tribes didn’t have the resources or staff to plan for
response, the Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center and Great Basin
Landscape Conservation Cooperative funded the UW Climate Impacts Group — under
the guidance of a tribal advisory group — to develop climate change resources
that could help fill gaps for those tribes needing additional support.
Climate Impacts Group contacted all 84 tribes in the Northwest and Great Basin
regions, asking what climate impacts they were most concerned about and which
geographic areas are important to them. As responses came in, it was clear each
tribe had specific factors they were most concerned about, including how stream
temperatures, snowpack and habitat might change in the future in their
some tribes just beginning to look at climate impacts on important resources to
their communities, they can analyze quite quickly and begin to narrow their
focus to some of the priority resources, whether it be salmon, deer and elk, or
migratory birds,” Sampson said. “Our goal is for all of Indian Country to have
a tool like this and get all of the tribes in the country able to assess the
impacts of climate on their resources.”
Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and the tribes of the Pacific Northwest
are leading tribal efforts nationwide to address climate change impacts in
Indian Country. This project, in collaboration with the University of
Washington, represents us using our traditional knowledge and the best
available scientific analysis,” said Leonard Forsman, president of the
Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians.
one example, the Makah Tribe in northwest Washington has started to form a plan
to adapt to climate change, drawing on these resources as well as community
surveys, elder interviews and staff input to consider aspects such as natural
resource management, infrastructure, health, cultural activities and carbon
mitigation. They have found the new tools to be particularly useful in
analyzing potential climate impacts on their specific area, said Mike Chang,
climate adaptation specialist at the Makah Tribe.
downscaled climate models are able to provide information at locally relevant
scales. This is super helpful because many regional climate models can’t
provide hyper-local climate projections, which is crucial when making planning
and adaptation decisions,” Chang said.
new climate resources are mainly online and include a climate tool, links to
resources and a technical support line for tribal staff and members.
the Makah Tribe, planning for climate change is underway for many tribes across
the country, said Rachael Novak, Tribal Resilience Program coordinator with the
Bureau of Indian Affairs. About 10 percent of federally recognized tribes have
a plan drafted, but the remaining tribes — still over 500 — are at various
points in the process, from implementing adaptation plans to assessing possible
impacts to not having begun. Time and resources are usually the biggest
barriers to creating a plan, she said.
so much diversity across Indian Country and Alaska Native Villages in terms of
staffing and resources,” Novak said. “It’s important to have tools to be able
to connect and meet people where they are in planning for climate change.”
project was funded by the Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center and the
Great Basin Landscape Conservation Cooperative.