Clearwater River Subbasin Climate Change Adaptation Plan

The Nez Perce Tribe Water Resources Division (NPTWRD) developed this adaptation plan to increase awareness around climate change issues in the Clearwater River Subbasin. Home to the Nez Perce,  the Subbasin covers just over 9,000 square miles in Idaho that includes a mix of federal, state, tribal and privately-owned land. Historically hunter-gatherers, the Tribe’s connection to the land is reflected today through dependence on industries such as agriculture, timber production, and tourism and recreation. The plan provides an overview of resource management and existing economic conditions in the Clearwater River Subbasin, assesses the risks associated with various stressors and impacts, and provides strategies toward protection of forest and water resources.

Over two-thirds of the Subbasin land area is comprised of evergreen forests. Changes in temperature and precipitation patterns are expected to reduce snowpack and cause early onset of summer drought conditions, in turn increasing forest fire potential. These stressors may also render forests vulnerable to pests and invasive species. Conversely, at higher elevations, climate change is projected to extend the growing season. Higher summer temperatures are also predicted to reduce water quality, decrease stream flows and dry out wetlands, which provide critical ecological benefits such as improving water quality and reducing flood frequency. With a large share of employment driven by industries such as agriculture, forestry, fishing and recreation/tourism, climate change may alter the economic composition of the Subbasin.

The adaptation plan proposes the following recommendations, amongst others:

  • Create partnerships to continue researching the effects of climate change on water resources, forestry and the economy
  • Affect planning/zoning changes to maintain waterways and restore the 100-year floodplain
  • Prioritize wetlands for protection and restoration
  • Restore vegetation along stream corridors
  • Expand homeowner education about fuels reduction to reduce wildfire risk
  • Encourage conservation of contiguous wildlife areas

Climate Solution University’s Forest and Water Strategies program, which empowers rural, underserved communities toward climate adaptation and resilience, provided guidance in the planning process.

 

Publication Date: December 30, 2011

Authors or Affiliated Users:

  • Ken Clark
  • Jenifer Harris

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  • Adaptation plan

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