Utilizing Partnerships to Enhance Climate Monitoring and Drought Management on Tribal Lands

Utilizing Partnerships to Enhance Climate Monitoring and Drought Management on Tribal Lands

Molly Woloszyn
National Integrated Drought Information System
Time Slot: 
Concurrent Sessions 6
Session Type: 

Drought poses a serious threat to communities nationwide, and regularly impacts the lives of millions and the nation’s economy. Since 1980, drought has been the second-costliest natural disaster in the U.S. according to NOAA, with the average cost per drought at $9.6 billion. Drought’s complex nature poses unique challenges, which include its impact on all sectors of the economy, its large-scale footprint, and its tendency to cross political boundaries.

Tribes face distinct and extensive drought impacts due to the value tribes place on relationships with the natural world, the importance of those relationships for cultural and spiritual practices, and because of the tribes’ often high reliance on agriculture, fishing, and subsistence for livelihoods. Addressing impacts may be complicated by jurisdictional, financial, and technical challenges. By taking steps to prepare for drought, tribes can reduce the negative effect on their critical water supplies, lifeways, and the environment, and increase the effectiveness of emergency response actions.

This session will provide a broad perspective on the planning process for drought, highlighting projects that have focused on several important pieces of that process: increasing the capacity of tribes to monitor local climate and drought conditions, assess their short- and long-term drought vulnerabilities, and identify culturally appropriate resilience actions to address these vulnerabilities. The session will also provide attendees with resources that they can use to pursue drought planning and implementation, including potential funding options. A facilitated discussion with presenters and the audience will focus on best practices and lessons learned.


Resilience and Drought Planning for Tribal Lands
Derek Kauneckis, Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, Ohio University
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As we look toward a future of increasingly variable precipitation patterns as well as growing demand for water resources, the importance of preparing for drought will be critical to maintaining the well-being of tribal communities. This presentation will outline the process of tribal resiliency and drought planning. It outlines essential steps in evaluating drought vulnerability, the connection between drought planning and broader climate resiliency, and provides additional resources. The presentation will highlight specific challenges facing tribal planners and their communities and look at available solutions.

Developing Climate and Drought Summaries for Tribal Communities in the Missouri River Basin.
Crystal J Stiles, High Plains Regional Climate Center
  • Natalie Umphlett, High Plains Regional Climate Center
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This presentation will describe efforts between tribal communities in the Missouri River Basin and their partners to increase resiliency to climate extremes through the development and utilization of climate and drought summaries. These summaries, which provide information on recent climate conditions and impacts on tribal lands in a concise and non-technical format, are produced quarterly and used for monitoring and decision-making. The presentation will also discuss training that tribal natural resource managers have received to produce the summaries.

Vulnerability Assessments: A Tool for Building Tribal Resilience to Drought in the Western U.S.
Anna Palmer, Ohio University Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs
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Discusses how a variety of vulnerability assessment techniques can be applied to enhance drought planning on tribal lands across the American Southwest. The research covered in this presentation is part of a large-scale tribal vulnerability assessment that was undertaken as part of the USDA-funded Native Waters on Arid Lands project in 2016-17.

Current Approaches to Drought Planning and Mitigation in Tribal Climate Adaptation Planning
Miles Gordon, Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs, Ohio University
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This presentation will cover the results of research into current approaches to drought adaptation planning and implementation in tribal climate adaptation plans and scoping documents. It will highlight specific cases where tribes are facing drought and have incorporated drought hazards into their climate adaptation plans, as well as the solutions that they have outlined. Specific cases to be highlighted include the Yakama Nation, the Confederated Salish & Kootenai, the Blackfeet Nation, the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe, and the Navajo Nation. The research covered in this presentation is part of a comprehensive review of currently existing tribal adaptation plans, vulnerability assessments, and scoping documents that was undertaken as part of the USDA-funded Native Waters on Arid Lands project in 2017-18.

Facilitating Tribal Climate Change Adaptation Planning and Communicating Climate Change Impacts in the Great Plains
James Rattling Leaf, Sr, Great Plains Tribal Water Alliance
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This presentation will share the visioning, planning, execution and evaluation of a two year project that focused an Tribal Climate adaptation with four Tribes in South Dakota. Also, the presentation will share lessons learned, best practices and Tribal engagement processes.

Where to Begin? Technical and Financial Resources for Drought Assessment and Planning
Cody Knutson, National Drought Mitigation Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
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So, you want to create a drought plan but aren’t sure how to go about it or fund the work? This presentation will highlight some of the technical and financial resources available to support tribal drought planning. Funding programs to be discussed include those from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Reclamation, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, among others. The presentation will also include examples of how several tribes have undertaken and funded their drought planning efforts.