Norton Bay Climate Risk Assessment Project

Glvn Fsh Plnt

(Photo credit: Hal)


In 2010, the Norton Bay Watershed Council (NBWC) and Native Villages of Elim, Koyuk, Unalakleet, and Shaktoolik initiated a Norton Sound adaptation planning process using the "Steps to Resilience" under the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit.

Step 1: Explore Hazards

In 2011, as part of Step 1 - Explore Hazards, the Native Village of Elim (NVE), the NBWC, and other partners worked to monitor environmental conditions, and initiated a planning effort to identify risks from climate change and potential mining development activities within the Norton Bay Watershed (Watershed). The results were an Assessment of Mining Impacts on Subsistence Ecosystems of the Tubutulik River Watershed; the Quality Assurance Project Plan for the NVE Tubutulik River Subsistence Protection Project; and the NVE Instream Flow Water Reservation Application (Planning Documents).

These documents were developed using both Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and contemporary science, and included the local community in decision making by holding community gatherings and participating in public gatherings. The planning effort also included surveys designed to gather TEK, and documentation of observations and concerns, as well as success stories. Data on water flow, quality and temperature were also applied to the Planning Documents to address the potential impacts of mining activity and climate change on subsistence resources and human health and welfare within the Tubutulik River Watershed.

Step 2: Assess Vulnerability and Risks

As part of Step 2 - Assess Vulnerability and Risks, NBWC and our partners engaged the Climate Solutions University (CSU) Adaptation Plan Development Program created by the Model Forest Policy Program (MFPP) to develop the Norton Bay Climate Change Adaption Plan (NBCCAP). This process engaged an array of stakeholders and expertise in building partnerships, gathering extensive information, thinking critically, and planning focused on a community-based team effort. The result was a regional action plan that the Norton Bay community and supporters are working to implement. 

Step 3: Investigate Options

As part of Step 3 - Investigate Options, NBWC and the NVE, with grant funding from the Bureau of Indian Affairs Tribal Resilience Program, presented a climate adaptation planning curriculum from July 2016 through May 2017. The curriculum informed and guided Alaskan Native community leaders and staff to develop Localized Climate Change Adaptation Plans by assessing local climate risks; developing strategies to address those risks; and building the information, funding, and resource capacity to take action for climate adaptation and community resilience. Participants in the curriculum gained a clear understanding of the impacts from climate change in Alaska, locally specific climate risks, and adaptation options to address risks.

Step 4&5: Prioritize, Plan, and Take Action

To engage in Step 4 - Prioritize and Plan, NBWC will continue our efforts to assist the Villages with climate resiliency planning. To this end, the Norton Sound Local Climate Change Adaption Planning Project will support the creation of climate-resilient action plans for Alaska Native Villages in the Norton Sound. Using a step-by-step process, participants will be provided with the information and tools needed to write a local adaptation plan and be ready to move into Step 5 - Take Action in a variety of ways that make sense for their community.

Funding has been obtained to help villages apply for Hazard Mitigation Planning and apply existing data and planning documents to take specific actions that protect rivers and streams that support fish and wildlife habitat and subsistence uses, from climate change and development.

Engaging with Indigenous Communities

We are engaging in a dialogue with other indigenous communities and nations to help the Villages respond and adapt to climate change. This includes engaging with the Inuit Circumpolar Council, the Arctic Circle, the Group on Earth Observations, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), the European Polar Board (EPB), and the Sustaining Arctic Observing Networks (SAON).

P.O. Box 15332, Fritz Creek, AK 99603
(907) 491-1355