North Olympic Peninsula tribes are getting an injection of cash for climate resilience projects thanks to a program from the U.S. Department of the Interior.
The funding is part of a $45 million program from DOI to support adaptation planning, climate implementation actions, ocean and coastal management planning, capacity building, relocation, managed retreat and protect-in-place planning for climate risks.
DOI said it would award 124 grants across 76 tribes and eight tribal organizations a Nov. 2 news release.
On the Peninsula, $2.3 million will go to the Makah Indian Tribe of the Makah Indian Reservation; $1.2 million to the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and $150,000 to the Quinault Indian Nation.
“Indigenous communities are facing unique and intensifying climate-related challenges that pose an existential threat to Tribal economies, infrastructure, lives and livelihoods,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland in the release. “Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are making an unprecedented investment in Indian Country to help ensure that Native communities will have clean air, drinkable water, fertile soil and an overall good quality of life for generations to come.”
Funding for what’s being called Tribal Climate Resilience projects is a combination of $20 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and $25 million from fiscal year 2022 appropriations, DOI said.
Climate change was affecting coastal communities including many of the region’s tribes, said Rep. Derek Kilmer, a Gig Harbor Democrat who was recently reelected to represent Washington’s 6th Congressional District, in a statement. Kilmer supported both the infrastructure bill and the 2022 appropriations, his office said.
“The federal government has an obligation to fulfill its trust and treaty responsibilities and to make sure that people aren’t put at risk,” Kilmer said. “That’s why I have continued to push the government to step up to deliver critical federal funding that can help ensure Tribal communities in our region get the support they need as they build climate resilience, move to higher ground, and keep their people out of harm’s way.”
The Makah Tribe in Neah Bay was awarded two grants, the larger of which is $2,056,574 for the Sophie Trettevick Indian Health Center Relocation Project, according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ award list for 2022.
According to BIA’s summary of the project, the health center is currently located in an area threatened by coastal erosion, flooding and landslides, and the tribe has made significant planning efforts to respond to climate change.
“The STIHC must maintain operational capacity to provide emergency medical services for this rural and remote community,” BIA said. “The Tribe plans to relocate the STIHC to a site at a higher elevation above the hazard zone.”
A smaller grant of $300,000 was also awarded to the Makah Tribe for a Relocation and Resilience Master Plan, as the community’s critical infrastructure sits within a Tsunami Inundation Zone and near the Cascadia Subduction Zone.
The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe was also awarded two grants to pay for planning and relocation of facilities. The Jamestwon S’Klallam was awarded $1,109,796 for Climate Adaptation Strategies Implementation.
The “Tribe has suffered through historic heat waves, repeated weeks with hazardous outdoor air quality, record rainfall, drought, economic uncertainty and global pandemic,” BIA said. “To adapt to these challenges, adaptation strategies need to provide multiple benefits and be adaptable to changing circumstances.”
Another $149,923 was awarded to the tribe for the relocation of a residence and its Natural Resources Library.
The Quinault Indian Nation in West Jefferson County was awarded $150,000 to hire an Emergency Management Administrative Coordinator to address concerns about the threat of coastal flooding to the Nation’s main villages of Taholah and Queets.
In Kitsap County, $250,000 will go to the Suquamish Indian Tribe of the Port Madison Reservation and $2.2 million to the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe.
Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.