The Northwest Climate Science Center (NW CSC), working in partnership with the Alaska Climate Science Center and the North Pacific Landscape Conservation Cooperative, jointly selected three innovative tribal projects on climate change adaptation for subsistence and cultural resources. These projects are designed to help natural and cultural resource managers better understand and respond to climate change and related stressors across the coastal temperate rainforest region of the Pacific Northwest. The projects are closely aligned to the mission of the NW CSC Strategic Plan and the foundational documents of our partner organizations as they relate to collaborating with Tribes and First Nations to adapt to climate change effects on resources that support tribal cultural and subsistence needs. This effort not only advances our collective understanding of climate change effects on resources important to the region's indigenous peoples, but also underscores our abilities to efficiently and effectively pool our financial resources across programs and geographic boundaries.
Project Title: Identifying climate vulnerabilities and prioritizing adaptation strategies for eulachon populations in the Chilkoot and Chilkat Rivers and the application of local monitoring systems
Project Lead: Chilkoot Indian Association – Brad Ryan
Summary: Eulachon, a small anadromous smelt, are a highly nutritious fish that are culturally significant to the Chilkat and Chilkoot peoples of the Tlingit Nation in Southeast Alaska. Tribal members are increasingly concerned about how climate change and related environmental stressors might affect future viability of eulachon and what types of management actions may be appropriate to help the species adapt to climate-induced environmental change. This project will complete a tribally-based climate change vulnerability assessment and adaptation plan for eulachon that spawn in the Chilkoot and Chilkat rivers near Haines, Alaska. Local monitoring will collect data on spawning populations in the Chilkoot River, and a tribal stakeholder group will be convened to analyze climate change projections, apply traditional knowledge, rank climate vulnerabilities, and prioritize adaptation strategies. Information gleaned from this project will be of high interest to tribal entities throughout the region.