Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe Climate Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Plan

Located in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe seeks to prepare for the broad-scale transformations to their homelands resulting from climate change. The goals of this adaptation plan include protecting and preserving cultural resources, ensuring continued economic growth, and promoting long-term community vitality. The plan begins by discussing observed changes, projections of future changes, and climate exposure across the following areas: increasing temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, sea level rise and coastal flooding, ocean acidification and temperature increases, forest habitat changes, and human health. Guided by a working group of 15 Tribal Citizens and Tribal Government representatives, the plan prioritizes resources and recommends climate preparedness and adaptation strategies across these resource areas.

According to climate projections, the Olympic Peninsula will experience increased fall and winter precipitation and decreased summer precipitation, in turn altering Dungeness River stream flow patterns and increasing forest wildfire risk. Sea level rise may impact the coastal built environment by directly damaging homes, accelerating erosion and redistributing sediment. The plan also discusses potential public health impacts arising from climate change; for example, shifts in plant and animal species may affect human nutrition, while wildfires may increase incidence of respiratory illness.

The climate change working group identified tribal areas of concern, assigned sensitivity and adaptive capacity rankings to these areas, and prioritized these areas based on factors such as the magnitude of impact, potential reversibility of the impact, and importance of the system at risk. Results of this activity are as follows:

  • Very high priority: salmon, clams and oysters, shellfish biotoxins, potential for wildfire, cedar harvests
  • High priority: local casino and market, regional highway, Blyn Tribal campus water supply
  • Medium priority: Jamestown Beach water supply, lab and planning department buildings, Blyn Tribal Campus Wastewater tanks

For each priority area, the report outlines why it is important, the expected climate impacts, and actions that can increase resilience. Along with recommended strategies, the plan also provides information on the costs, ease of implementation, and level of community support for each strategy. Salmon, for example, are an iconic cultural resource integral to the diet of Tribal Citizens. As water temperatures rise, salmon become more vulnerable to disease and death. Actions to address these risks include restoring streams and streamside habitats, encouraging sustainable harvesting, and mitigating stressors such as urbanization and draining of wetlands.

As another example, providing berries, medicinal plants, and habitats for deer and bear, forests hold great value to the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. Because Tribal lands are located in dry areas that are susceptible to wildfire, Tribal leaders are concerned about the potential loss of homes, property and infrastructure. Further, respiratory illness is a top reason for medical visits by Tribal Citizens. To address wildfire risk, the plan recommends reducing biomass fuel in vulnerable areas, implementing a public campaign to educate nearby residents about wildfire mitigation, monitoring forest conditions, and developing a community evacuation plan.

U.S. Route 101 is a critical transportation corridor for the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, serving as the primary travel route and access route for goods and services. The highway also connects tourists to the 7 Cedars Casino, an important economic driver and source of employment for Tribal Citizens. Projected sea level rise and potential extreme weather events render the highway vulnerable to flooding. To increase transportation resilience, the plan recommends creating bioswales along the highway to store excess runoff and working with the Washington Department of Transportation to raise low-lying bridges and crossings.

Next steps for the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Government and Citizens include prioritizing strategies for implementation, building community support for climate preparedness, and incorporating climate preparedness into Tribal Government operations and policies.



Publication Date: August 2013

Related Organizations:

  • Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe

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  • Adaptation plan

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