Char-Koosta News

The Official Publication of the Flathead Nation online

January 26, 2012

CSKT Forestry to seek interviewees for climate change project on the Flathead Reservation

By Roian Matt, CSKT Tribal Forestry Department, in collaboration with Alan Watson, Rocky Mountain Research Station; and Steve Carver, University of Leeds

Landscape Units on the Flathead Indian Reservation Landscape Units on the Flathead Indian Reservation

RONAN — The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Forestry Department, the Rocky Mountain Research Station, and the University of Leeds (UK) are about to embark on a pilot project aimed at developing understanding to support forest planning to address climate change uncertainty on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Selected methods will incorporate knowledge and opinions of current Reservation residents and tribal natural resource managers about how the landscape has changed over time, the causes of those changes, and challenges to achieving desired future conditions. Emphasis is on water and fire regimes.

All of the entities have experience working together to understand attitudes of residents of the Flathead Indian Reservation toward fire and vegetation management to solve contentious issues (e.g., Watson et al. 2008; Carver et al. 2009; Watson et al. 2011). Past collaborative work has focused on how knowledge about a culturally significant landscape influences attitudes toward CSKT forestry tactics and policies to maintain ecosystem health through vegetative management and fire applications.

A Secretarial Order issued by the Department of Interior in March 2009, regarding climate change adaption planning, requires the coordination of science-based response to impacts of climate change on land, water, wildlife, cultural heritage, and tribal lands and resources.

These directives issued by the DOI in 2010, require the CSKT Forestry Department to “address impacts of climate change on American Indians and Alaska Natives, for whom the Department holds trust responsibilities on behalf of the Federal government” and “continue to provide state-of-the-art science to better understand the impacts of climate change and to develop science-based adaptive management strategies for natural and cultural resource managers.”

Both the U.S. government and the CSKT are therefore committed to conducting research that increases potential for protecting the forest environment well-being and cultural landscape well-being for future populations of people living on the Flathead Indian Reservation through climate change adaptive planning.

The CSKT Forestry Department is required to develop a section of their Forest Plan (approved in May 2000, currently under revision) that prescribes adaptive planning to mitigate negative effects of climate change exposures and vulnerability on Tribal forest lands.

This pilot project will begin with focusing on the Jocko Landscape Unit in an effort to establish methodology and demonstrate application value. Forest Service Research-Rocky Mountain Research Station, the CSKT, and the University of Leeds-UK will combine resources and planning to accomplish these tasks.

The CSKT have documented changes in climate for centuries through their creation and Coyote stories. They have always had a close relationship with nature and the land. So, when changes are accelerated, Tribes notice.

The CSKT still relies heavily on the landscape around them. The people’s subsistence, spirituality, and economics are directly related to the earth, plants, and animals.

Members of the CSKT depend on timber management for employment and monetary gain as well as maintaining a part of their cultural identity through traditional practices. Employment is indirectly affected due to severe bark beetle attacks on the Reservation. It is debated that bark beetle attacks are more rigorous due to milder winters, thus not keeping beetles and larvae in check.

For data collection in this project, semi-structured and informal interviews will be used to understand values, viewpoints, and issues regarding climate change in the Jocko Landscape on the Flathead Indian Reservation.

Tribal members, non-Tribal Reservation residents, and Reservation natural resource managers will be interviewed.

Jocko Landscape Jocko Landscape

Interviewees selected will have locally important knowledge or specific interest in the selected landscape, for example hunters, anglers, gatherers, elders, recreationists, cultural people, farmers, ranchers, and other people that have a direct tie to the land with knowledge of the history of the land.

For the most part, interviewees will be heavily skewed as residents toward the southern end of the Reservation and must have lengthy ties to the Jocko Landscape that are capable of recognizing change.

The project seeks to find out what the area once looked like and what it looks like now, perhaps being a unique aspect of the research. Natural resource managers will have scientific knowledge of their field and of the Reservation lands, specifically the Jocko Landscape Unit.

Thirty community interviewees will be selected. Natural resource managers will include those employed in the fields of forestry, fire, fisheries, wildlife, wetlands, water, and range management, specifically including representatives of the Tribal Natural Resource Department and members of Tribal Culture Preservation.

A minimum of nine natural resource managers will be surveyed for the Jocko landscape unit.

During the interviews, the MapMe program, a toolkit for mapping landscape values and meanings linked to water and fire and fuel treatments on forest lands, will be used to collect the data. MapMe is a National Fire Plan Technology Transfer sponsored tool. The prototype of this tool has been envisioned cooperatively between the University of Leeds, the CKST and RMRS with National Fire Plan funding. This tool makes existing qualitative/fuzzy mapping software TAGGER compatible with Google Earth/Maps and so makes it easy to set up and use by managers and non-experts with minimal training thereby increasing its trial and adoption.

TAGGER is software developed at the University of Leeds that was applied in the mapping of personal and community meanings for fuel treatment research collaborative with RMRS on the Flathead Indian Reservation. A web-based interface will be provided to allow seamless integration of the TAGGER software within the Google Earth/Maps interface.

This will allow managers to:

(a) easily import map layers from any GIS platform into specific format to provide spatial context to a decision problem (e.g. boundary lines, management zones, land ownership, points of interest, annotation, etc.);

(b) design and modify public participation web pages (including home page, user instructions, user profile forms, etc.) using simple and easy to use forms and templates;

(c) post the map survey on the web for public/stakeholder use;

(d) monitor use and collate results for further mapping and synthesis;

(e) make outputs available for further analysis in GIS and/or statistical software packages;

(f) share results with other agencies/managers; and

(g) feedback summaries and conclusions to the public, stakeholder groups and community representatives.

Upon completion of the data collection, University of Leeds scientists through pre-programmed MapMe software will summarize data. All data input will be associated with maps and used to illustrate locations of perceived change, locations of desired change and descriptions of specific attributes connected to fire regimes will be displayed.

Scientists engaged in climate change from the University of Leeds will facilitate review and provide input. Using different scenarios or models, scientists will determine resources and landscapes that are vulnerable to climate change on the Flathead Indian Reservation.

Scientists will provide information on climate change as pertained to the Reservation. This analysis will identify primary cultural resources and environmental conditions that are vulnerable to fire and prescribe adaptive planning to mitigate negative effects of climate change exposure and vulnerability on Tribal forest lands when revising the FIRFMP and applying knowledge to the remainder of the landscapes.

A final report provided by CSKT and University of Leeds will describe the purpose of this project, outcomes, and likely application for other landscape segments within the Flathead Indian Reservation long-term forest planning process.

A power point presentation with illustrations that explain chosen landscape parameters (describe the physical area of focus on the Reservation), summarizes methods used, explains the purpose of the case study, and summarizes findings and implications for forest planning.

After the research is analyzed, a journal article will also be written and a web-based training will also be developed.

For anyone who may be interested in participating in this project or may have any questions or concerns, please contact Roian Matt, 676-3755 ext. 6017.

Maps courtesy of John Holub, CSKT Tribal Forestry Department

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