GRIC Climate Change Adaptation and Resiliency Plan in the works

September 1, 2017


Christopher Lomahquahu

Gila River Indian News


With thoughts of drought conditions a concern throughout the Southwest, the Gila River Indian Community is taking steps to address how it will prepare itself as climate changes.


The GRIC Department of Environmental Quality is ensuring the Community is a step ahead to determine what the appropriate actions are for climate change.


Last year, DEQ teamed up with the Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals and the University of Arizona to begin to develop the GRIC Climate Change Adaptation and Resiliency Plan (CCARP), which included the hosting of two workshops in the Community.


Althea Walker, DEQ Environmental Education and Outreach Specialist, said “It’s about breaking it down to the more personal aspects of [it].”


According to an executive summary the CCARP’s goal, is to inform Community members about the need to explore the long-term impacts on GRIC’s food, health, traditional lifestyles, and culture.


“When [things] become unavailable, you forget or are unable to share those practices to teach our younger generation,” said Walker.


The workshops explored how resiliency plays an important role in the welfare of the Community.

Aspects about it include how climate change will impact the Community’s land and waters and what kind of impact it will have on GRIC’s ability to sustain it’s livelihood.


Walker said, “It is going to affect our health…whether it is heat stress, air pollution…food insecurity. It is going to affect us and our comfortable way of living.”


From the information gathered during the two workshops, from Community members, DEQ can better understand how to develop strategies to understand how climate change impacts them.


U of A’s Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions program assisted in GRIC’s adaptation planning by putting together a climate profile of the Community to help better understand what GRIC’s climate has been like since around 1900, climate change trends, climate projections, and how climate change will affect us in general.


In addition, the partnership with Northern Arizona University’s Institute of Tribal Environmental Professionals helped in identifying some of the contributing factors that influence climate change on a tribal, local, national, and global scale.


The indicators that climate change is at play include an increase in average temperatures, decrease in average precipitation, increase in length of frost-free season, heavier downpours; the list goes on, all of which can impact our livelihoods, like a farmer’s ability to grow crops.


In regards to climate change adaptation and resiliency planning, “it’s a form of writing this valuable knowledge and information down and being proactive versus being reactive,” said Walker, “It is also about being more informed on it and writing a strategy to address the impacts climate change has on our Community.”   


Now that the planning process has further developed and the workshops have been completed, the work will turn towards educational outreach to refine the spectrum of services that will be developed around climate change.


The overall goal of the CCARP is to lessen the impacts of climate change on our health and well being, not only for today, but for future generations to come.