Tribal resource managers in the southwest U.S. are facing a host of challenges related to environmental change, including increasing temperatures, longer periods of drought, and invasive species. These threats are exacerbating the existing challenges of managing complex ecosystems. In a rapidly changing environment, resource managers need powerful tools and the most complete information to make the most effective decisions possible.
Traditional Ecological Knowledge has enabled Indigenous peoples to adaptively manage and thrive in diverse environments for thousands of years, yet it is generally underutilized and undervalued, particularly in the context of western scientific approaches. Traditional Ecological Knowledge and western science offer complementary insights and, together, can facilitate climate change adaptation. This project will use both methods of understanding the environment to provide tribal resource managers cutting edge information about what their environment looked like in the past to better understand it in the present and make more informed decisions for the future.
In particular, this project will work directly with Ute Mountain Ute decision-makers in using a combination of Traditional Ecological Knowledge and paleo-ecological records to explore past vegetation changes relevant to the stakeholder community. This work will then inform a forward-looking assessment of climate change impacts and adaptation options. Tribal youth will be involved in collecting information, and in developing and distributing outreach materials that summarize the work. By utilizing both Traditional Ecological Knowledge and western science techniques, this project will: 1) show how two different methods of understanding the environment can be utilized in a resource management context to assist with decision making, 2) establish how useful these methods are in tandem, and 3) provide southwest resource managers with better historic and holistic information to use in resource management decision making.
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“San Juan National Forest in Colorado; U.S. Forest Service”