The CSKT has completed a Climate Change Strategic Plan in 2013, updated in 2016 and because of accelerated frequency of disturbance, are currently in the process of updating the plan in 2019.
The issue of scale and intensity has challenged climate adaptation implementation efforts, with many temperature and precipitation predictions identified in 2013 being greatly exceeded. Since developing the CSKT Climate Change Strategic Plan, we have experienced the three warmest years on record for the globe, with an increase of 2.0-3.0 degrees F. in annual average temperatures in Montana documented between 1950 and 2015 (2017 Montana Climate Assessment). This warming trend is expected to continue and will accelerate into the future; with mid-century projections for additional increases of 4.5-6.0 degrees F. (2017 Montana Climate Assessment). The frequency and severity of drought has increased as well over the same time period.
Overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that human inputs of greenhouse gases are almost certain to cause continued warming of the planet. (Environmental Protection Agency, 2013). The Northwest has already observed climate changes including an average increase in temperature of 1.5°F over the past century. (Karl, Melillo, & Peterson, 2009). Locally, all models predict warmer temperatures, lower snowpack, and more frequent and severe droughts and floods. (Marni E. Koopman, 2011). The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes acknowledge these change and its potential impacts on the Flathead Reservation in Montana.
Historically, Tribal elders have recognized and prepared for climate change. Climate change planning has been occurring for centuries. As such, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Climate Change Strategic Plan sets forth the foundation for developing effective, culturally-sensitive climate change adaption and mitigation strategies needed to ensure healthy social, environmental, and built environments on the Flathead Reservation. These efforts have been authorized through Tribal Resolution No. 13-52 and are in direct support of the Tribes’ mission to provide sound environmental stewardship that preserves, perpetuates, protects and enhances natural resources and ecosystems.
"Indigenous people of the world have a special moral stature on this issue [of climate change]
and may have a special role to play in coming together to advocate for action.
- Salish-Pend d'Oreille Culture Committee
The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Climate Change Strategic Plan’s mitigation and adaptation strategies are guided by local impact assessments. These assessments investigate the vulnerabilities and risks of the forestry, land, fish, wildlife, water, air, infrastructure, people, and culture sectors to the impacts of climate change.
Vulnerability is the susceptibility of a system to harm from climate change impacts. Risk is the consequence of an impact times the probability or likelihood that the impact will happen. These assessments determine the urgency of each planning area, ranging from low to high priority. They guide the development of preparedness goals and actions. These goals and actions vary based on a variety of factors, such as the types and magnitudes of projected climate change impacts and the scale of the planning effort.
Overall, this planning represents an ongoing and evolving adaptive management process. Implementation planning which determines the tasks to be completed, resources needed, responsible parties, collaborations, and evaluation measures needed to fulfill the goals is the next step in improving the Tribal community and its lands resiliency to the impacts of climate change.