Supporting Tribal climate change adaptation planning with ITEP

ITEP tour Jornada June 2019 by Julian Reyes

The Institute of Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP) at Northern Arizona University offers training to tribal environmental professionals to build their capacity to address climate change issues. The courses are taught by instructional teams that include staff from ITEP, federal agencies, universities, and/or organizations, and most importantly, the tribes themselves, who share their expertise and experience. The SW hub was honored to host a training workshop this June. 

Las Cruces NM,

The USDA Southwest Climate Hub and USDA-ARS Jornada Experimental Range hosted a climate change adaptation planning workshop led by the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP). The course provided an overview for developing a climate change adaptation plan, discussion of possible adaptation strategies, and tools/resources that may be useful in Tribes’ adaptation planning process.

We started the first day with a blessing, and talking circle among participants and instructors on our expectations and priorities for the workshop. In addition to an introduction to the Southwest Climate Hub, we heard from our partners from the South Central and Southwest Climate Adaptation Science Centers. Some of the resources Tribal professionals learned about included:

Participants were treated to an amazing tour of the Chihuahuan Desert Nature Park and Jornada Experimental Range ranch by our very own Dr. Joel Brown. The early morning start was necessary to avoid the summer heat. Joel described the historical and cultural namesake for the ranch: the Jornada del Muerto. The ranch is home to a diverse set of research and extension projects including the Long-term Ecological Research (LTER) program, Long-term Agroecosystem Research (LTAR) program, and National Wind Erosion Research network. Later in the afternoon, participants heard  about weather monitoring on Tribal lands, and numerous weather and climate impacts tools that might be useful for adaptation planning:

  • MesoWest: Real-time weather observations from federal, state, and private networks

  • AgACIS: Data portal for agricultural users including information on frost and growing season

The information kept flowing on day three with presentations about risk management and lesser known resources for Tribes:

The primary audience of the workshop were tribal environmental and natural resource professionals who expect to be involved in climate change adaptation and resilience planning.

Participants represented 7 states, 12 Tribal Nations, and 3 state/federal agencies. We are thankful to our Hub partners for their involvement and participation including the Asombro Institute, USFS Rocky Mountain Research Station, NRCS, New Mexico State Climatologist, and Southwest and South Central Climate Adaptation Science Centers. The SWCH and ITEP teams were proud to host this training with an agriculture focus, and hope to grow this partnership into the future.