Blackfeet Climate Change Adaptation Planning

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 in the Blackfeet Reservation. Participants in each sector were then 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.

Planning for climate change is occurring at many different scales across the world and north central Montana is no exception. Information and inspiration from initiatives marked with an asterisk (*) have already informed the Blackfeet climate change adaptation planning process, and other initiatives could provide inspiration, information, and assistance in the future.

Regional initiatives

Montana Climate Assessment*

The 2017 Montana Climate Assessment discusses climate change impacts in relation to Montana’s forests, agriculture, and water, and it includes some general adaptation strategies for managing Montana’s forests.

Northern Rockies Adaptation Partnership*

In 2016, the Northern Rockies Adaptation Partnership (NRAP) completed its draft report, “Climate Change Vulnerability and Adaptation in the Northern Rocky Mountains”, a plan for climate change in the Northern Rockies. The report identifies vulnerabilities and adaptation strategies and tactics in the Northern Rocky Mountains relevant to resources management. NRAP is a partnership between the U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture regional offices and regional national forests, U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest and Rocky Mountain Research Stations; Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks; Great Northern and Plains and Prairie Potholes Landscape Conservation Cooperatives; Department of Interior North Central Climate Science Center; Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee; Oregon State University; and EcoAdapt.

Climate Smart Glacier Country

Climate Smart Glacier Country is currently working to address challenges of climate change in the Glacier National Park region through a series of working groups and through creating a Whitefish Climate Action Plan.

Regional tribal initiatives

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Climate Change Strategic Plan* was written to create a foundation for developing effective strategies to address climate change and protect the environment. It serves as a model for tribes seeking to plan for increasing resilience to climate change.

The Blackfeet Nation is set to complete its first Blackfeet Nation Climate Adaptation Plan by the end of 2017.

County initiatives

Climatewise workshop and action plans

In 2011, Missoula County partnered with Headwaters Economics, in cooperation with the Clark Fork Coalition and the Geos Institute, to convene a Climatewise Workshop. They prepared a Primer Report on Climate Change in Missoula County, along with five climate change action plans focused on local impacts, wildfire severity and growth, flooding, river de-watering, and fish and wildlife.

City initiatives

City of Helena

In 2009, Helena completed a Climate Change Task Force Action Plan, and in June, 2017, Helena adapted the Paris Accord goals.

City of Bozeman

Bozeman completed its Community Climate Action Plan in 2011.

These regional planning initiatives suggest that there are many opportunities for collaborating across jurisdictions as we build climate change resilience. Learning from one another as each initiative is implemented can increase our collective efficiency and pace of adaptation.

Next, learn about the Aquatic Invasive Species Program.

Or, learn about how other indigenous communities are adapting to climate change.

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