Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians Adaptation Plan

Full Title

Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Plan

Project Overview

The Stillaguamish people have depended on the natural environment for subsistence living since time immemorial. As descendants of the Puget Sound region’s first inhabitants, the Stillaguamish people have also had to continually adapt to environmental, cultural, and socioeconomic change. Throughout this long history, cultural preservation and stewardship of the natural lands and resources that have sustained the Stillaguamish people have remained central to the Tribe.

As the Stillaguamish Tribe looks to the needs of current and future Tribal generations, the need to prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change has become imperative. This awareness is driven by mounting evidence that global and regional climate is changing as a result of rising greenhouse gases, as well as the understanding that substantive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions (i.e., climate mitigation) are unlikely to be made in time to avoid impacts on the health and well-being of Tribal members and culture. More importantly, this awareness is driven by the unique threat that climate change presents to a culture that is intricately connected to the landscape and its fish and wildlife. For example, changes in streamflow and water temperature will increase the severity of existing declines in salmon and other culturally important species (Jenni et al. 2013, Montag et al. 2014). In addition, sea level rise may result in permanent inundation of low-lying areas, species and habitats important to the Tribe may experience shifts in their distributions and abundances, and changes in the timing of biological events (e.g., flowering, migration) may result in mismatches with the traditional timing of certain harvest practices, ceremonies, or other actives linked to traditional ways of knowing. This close union of culture and environment makes the Tribe particularly vulnerable to climate change.

In 2015, the Stillaguamish Tribe’s Natural Resources Department contracted with the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group (CIG) to complete a climate change vulnerability assessment for 57 species and 10 habitats important to the Stillaguamish Tribe. Completed in February 2016, the Stillaguamish Tribe Natural Resources Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment provided a quantitative estimate of vulnerability for 40 species using NatureServe’s Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI), a qualitative estimate of climate vulnerability for 17 species or groups of species (e.g., bivalves, forage fish) with insufficient range data to support CCVI analysis, and a qualitative assessment for ten habitat types (Krosby et al. 2016, Young et al. 2011). Assessment results suggest that vulnerability will vary considerably across species, with some species (e.g., aquatic and alpine species) becoming extremely vulnerable by the 2080s under both moderate and high carbon emissions scenarios while others (e.g., many bird species) remain stable or even increase. All habitats were estimated to become moderately to highly vulnerable by the 2050s.

The Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Plan completes the next major step in preparing for climate change. Developed by Natural Resources Department staff with support from CIG, the plan identifies 190 actions, organized by habitat type and inclusive of outreach and education, that are expected to help species and habitats important to the Stillaguamish Tribe become more resilient to the impacts of climate change. These actions span a range of activities consistent with the current work of the Natural Resources Department, including planning, restoration, data collection, monitoring, consultation, and outreach and engagement. The plan also includes new activities not currently reflected in the Natural Resources Department’s scope of work that will be needed to meet the plan’s goal and objectives. Partnerships will play a critical role in implementing these activities within the Stillaguamish Watershed and, when relevant, the area ceded by the Tribe under the Treaty of Point Elliot (Figure 1).

Figure 1. The Stillaguamish Watershed (ivory) and area ceded under the Treaty of Point Elliot (beige). Figure: R. Norheim, UW Climate Impacts Group.

 

 Key Personnel

* Indicates CIG Personnel or CIG Affiliate(s)

  • Meade Krosby  (Principal Investigator), University of Washington*
  • Lara Whitely Binder, University of Washington*
  • Harriet Morgan, University of Washington*

Key Collaborators

Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians, Natural Resources Department

Funder(s)

Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians, Natural Resources Department

Download the Report

PDF available here

Citation

Whitely Binder, L., H. Morgan, M. Krosby, J. Sevigny, A. Summers, and T. Neuffer. 2017. Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians Natural Resources Climate Change Adaptation Plan. A collaboration of the Stillaguamish Natural Resources Department and the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group. Seattle,WA.

Related Work

Stillaguamish Tribe Natural Resources Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment

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