In 2016, the Blackfeet Nation commenced a climate change adaptation planning process, facilitated by the Blackfeet Environmental Office and the Center for Large Landscape Conservation. The planning process was guided by the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP) Adaptation Planning Toolkit, and by the National Wildlife Federation’s paper “Climate Smart Conservation: Putting Adaptation Principles into Practice”. The planning process began with a review of climate change trends and predictions by Molly Cross, the Director of Climate Change Adaptation for the North America Program of the Wildlife Conservation Society. Cross created a summary table of the predicted climate change impacts specific to the northwest Montana region. The project team presented the climate predictions summary table at a series of three information and planning meetings with resource management sectors: agriculture, culture, forestry, fish, wildlife, land and range, water, and human health; then the planning team facilitated discussions with managers and other experts to identify sector-specific impacts within the Blackfeet Nation. Participants in each sector were guided through a process of identifying sector-specific vulnerabilities, using ITEP’s Vulnerability and Risk Matrices and ITEP’s Identifying Priority Planning Areas tool. From the identified impacts, the project team then worked with managers in each sector, often with in-person follow-up meetings, to create goals, strategies, and actions for climate change adaptation.
In addition to the planning work being carried out by sector within the Blackfeet Nation, planning participants attended a variety of regional and national conferences addressing climate adaptation. Gerald Wagner (Blackfeet Environmental Office) and Melly Reuling (Center for Large Landscape Conservation) were invited to present on holistic climate adaptation planning on a plenary panel at the National Adaptation Forum in Minneapolis, Minnesota in April 2017. They also presented at the Roundtable on the Crown of the Continent Annual Conference and at other regional Climate Adaptation Planning meetings supported by ITEP. The Blackfeet Environmental Office, in collaboration with the Center for Large Landscape Conservation, received a Climate Impacts and Health grant from the National Indian Health Board to look at health-related impacts of climate change in January of 2017. This allowed attendance at the National Climate and Health Conference in Atlanta, Georgia in March of 2017.
Through these internal and external activities, the Blackfeet Nation is deliberately planning for the increasing impacts of climate change. With our leadership actively seeking to protect our communities and diverse ecosystems, we are helping to lead the way for others looking to integrate climate adaptation planning. This climate plan has been a timely effort in that it is informing the Blackfeet Agricultural Resource Management Plan which is being developed concurrently. Both plans will then inform the Integrated Resource Management Plan which will be carried out over the next two years. We are successfully engaged in a holistic planning process that includes all parts of tribal government, while respectfully considering traditional values and a collective community vision for our future.
Take a look through the sections of the Plan: