We are asking for members of the community and tribal employees to share their valuable input, expertise, observations, and concerns about climate change. Responses to the survey will be used to inform the development of a Climate Change Adaptation Plan for the Nez Perce Tribe. Survey responses that are received before October 31st will be entered into a drawing for one of three $100 gift cards to Walmart!
What We Do
The goal of this project is to develop a climate vulnerability assessment and adaptation plan that will:
- Assist the Tribe in understanding how changing weather and seasonal patterns will impact the daily lives of tribal members.
- Assist the Tribe’s Natural Resources Programs (Fisheries, Forestry, Water Resources, Wildlife, Air Quality, Emergency Response, Hanford, and Cultural Resources) in planning for a changing climate.
- Assist in providing information to tribal members about the impacts of shifting weather, water flows, and seasonal patterns, and sustainability practices that can help us manage our impacts on Mother Earth and Father Sky, and the many ecosystems, plants and animals that the Nimiipuu call family.
The Tribe produced a smaller climate adaptation plan in 2011 that included Forestry, Water Resources, and related socioeconomic issues. This was a small project funded by the Model Forestry Program. We are now expanding this planning effort to include Fisheries, Wildlife, Cultural Resources, Traditional Knowledge, and Public Health Issues. We are also seeking funding to implement the plan.
We know that this process will only be successful with the involvement of the entire community! The Resilience and Adaptation Program has been conducting outreach programs to inform and hear from tribal members, Nez Perce Tribe employees, and the entire reservation community about the potential impacts of extreme weather, shifting seasons, patterns of animal migration, ocean acidification, changing water cycles, and the loss of soil nutrients and farmland fertility due to seasonal and weather changes. We are also working to provide and seek information about practices that promote sustainability and resilience, such as the local food sustainability and sovereignty movement.
Salmon and Climate Change
Salmon is one of the best examples of the impacts of climate change on tribal communities in the Columbia River Basin. Salmon is a sacred member of the Nimiipuu family that is severely impacted by changes in the timing, quantity and type of precipitation, the timing of peak flows and stream temperatures, and changes in the acidity of the ocean. For example, extreme weather events in the summer of 2015 (extreme heat, drought, fires and low river flows) caused a massive fish kill in the Columbia River Basin. With fewer fish returning from the ocean in 2017, the impacts from 2015 continue to be felt. Shifting seasons and water cycles only increase these negative impacts on migratory fish in the Columbia River Basin. The Climate Adaptation Plan will focus on the headwaters of the river basin to the ocean and the entire lifecycle of Salmon and other migratory fish.
Bright red sockeye salmon swim up the Fraser River to the stream where they were hatched.
The Climate Change Task Force
The Climate Change Task Force is an interdisciplinary group of scientists and planners from the Tribe’s Fisheries and Natural Resources Programs. The task force includes the Department Managers of Fisheries and Natural Resources (Dave Johnson and Aaron Miles); Shane Vatland and John Byrne from Fisheries Research; Ken Clark, Director of Water Resources; Marcie Carter, and Heide McRoberts from the Watershed Division; John DeGroot, Director of Forestry; Mary Williams from Wildlife; Josiah Pinkham and Lucy Samuels from Cultural Resources; John Wheaton from Emergency Management; and Julie Simpson from Air Quality.
Climate Change Specialists
In December 2016, Stefanie Krantz became the Tribe’s Climate Change Coordinator. In June of 2017, three part-time Climate Change Specialists: Eric Walsh, Amber Ziegler, and Rebecca (Becky) Witinok-Huber; joined the Climate Change Planning Team to help with the Climate Change Adaptation Planning Process. Eric Walsh is a Ph.D. student at the University of Idaho, studying forest change on cavity nesting birds. He is downscaling data for the Indian Claims Commission Area, and summarizing projected changes. Amber Ziegler, a cultural anthropologist, is working on impacts and adaptation for cultural resources, traditional knowledge about climate change, and public health. Becky Witinok-Huber is also a Ph.D. student at the University of Idaho, studying Climate and Energy in the Columbia River Basin for her dissertation. She is working on water and agriculture impacts and adaptation for the plan. We are thankful to have their valuable input and expertise with this integrative planning process.
Qe’ci’yew’yew’ (Thank you to our Partners and Sponsors)
This planning effort would never have been possible without the generous funding support from the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Tribal Resilience Program, 638 Program, and Rights Protection Initiative. In addition, we would like to thank the the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative Network for their support, and the many groups throughout the region collaborating the help people and wildlife.
We are grateful to scientists and partners throughout the region including the Columbia River Intertribal Fish Commission, University of Idaho, Washington State University, Climate Impacts Group, the Pacific Northwest Tribal Climate Change Network, the Northwest Climate Science Center, Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, the BIA, and other tribes in the region that have supported adaptation and mitigation efforts throughout the Northwest and the entire globe.
We are also indebted to the Nimiipuu and the many community members of the Nez Perce Reservation whose input and energy into this planning process will help ensure our communities are resilient, sustainable, and can adapt to a changing climate.