Feds Will Spend $450K to Help Native Americans Adapt to 'Climate Change’

August 5, 2014 - 11:21 AM

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(CNSNews.com) – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) plans to spend up to $450,000 in taxpayer dollars to teach Native American tribes in the Great Basin region ”climate adaptation plans” for their hunting, fishing and gathering activities.

“Due to climate change, the natural landscapes are becoming impacted,” and the “traditional practices for hunting, fishing, and gathering for ceremonial purposes” can potentially create further impacts,” according to BLM’s Cooperative Agreement announcement.

“It is important to educate those who are engaging in these gathering activities to reduce impacts on public lands. If tribes are able to develop adaptation plans for their gathering activities, they would have a process to follow that could reduce negative impacts on the landscape,” the Request for Applications (RFA) explains. (See RFA Template MLR (1).doc)

The applicant “will focus on climate change impacts in the Great Basin region,[and] target tribes from the region to attend,” the grant application stated. “The course is intended for tribal environmental and natural resource professionals who expect to be involved in climate change adaptation planning.”

The Great Basin Landscape Conservation Cooperative (GBLCC), is one of 22 LCCs nationwide established by the Department of the Interior (DOI) in 2010 to “better integrate science and management to address climate change and related issues.”  The Great Basin area covers parts of Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and California.

The Duckwater Shoshone Tribe, the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah, the Upper Snake River Tribes Foundation, and the Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation all have representatives on the GBLCC.

Todd Hopkins, GBLCC's science coordinator, told CNSNews.com that the trainings will focus on “actions that the tribes can take in response to changing climatic conditions.”

Upper Snake River Tribes Foundation

Hopkins said that GLBCC collaborated on a similar three-day training course with the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP) last fall, which was funded through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and titled “Climate Adaptation Training for Tribes.”

The RFA says the proposed training “will build on existing collaborations” from that earlier course.

Hopkins said that the upcoming trainings will work off of ITEP’s Climate Change Adaptation Planning curriculum.

As part of last year’s training, Dr. Kurt Johnson, national climate scientist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, created a guide which provides an introduction to “climate change vulnerability assessment” and provides a chart categorizing local species’ potential vulnerability to climate change.

Hopkins said that the climate change adaptation training is focused on Great Basin tribes because they are “place-based and their gathering is very much traditional in a sense that they use certain traditional foods and resources at certain times of the year, and because of climate shifts they are more impacted than other folks who may, say, go hunt in another place.”

“We making a special effort to reach out to tribes and provide training on climate adaptation so that they can decide how best to sustain and secure their culture for future generations,” he added.

In July, President Obama announced the Tribal Climate Resilience Program to “help tribes prepare for climate change.” As part of this initiative, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell will “dedicate $10 million in funding for tribes and tribal organizations to develop tools to enable adaptive resource management, as well as the ability to plan for climate resilience.”

“Tribes are at the forefront of many climate issues, so we are excited to work in a more cross-cutting way to help address tribal climate needs,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy in the White House statement announcing the program. “We’ve heard from tribal leaders loud and clear: when the federal family combines its efforts, we get better results - and nowhere are these results needed more than in the fight against climate change.”

BLM estimates that the training for Great Basin tribes, which is not part of Obama's $10 million initiative, will cost $450,000 over the next five years, with an award ceiling of $90,000 for the first year. The grant was announced on July 22 and will remain open for applications until August 8.