2016 Progress Report: Coastal Climate Impacts to First Foods, Cultural Sites, and Tribal Community Health and Well-being

EPA Grant Number: R835595
Title: Coastal Climate Impacts to First Foods, Cultural Sites, and Tribal Community Health and Well-being
Investigators: Donatuto, Jamie , McBride, Aundrea , Grossman, Eric , Campbell, Larry , Grossman, Sarah
Current Investigators: Donatuto, Jamie , Campbell, Larry , Grossman, Sarah , McBride, Aundrea , Grossman, Eric
Institution: Swinomish Indian Tribal Community , USGS Western Fisheries Research Center , Skagit System Cooperative
Current Institution: Swinomish Indian Tribal Community , Skagit System Cooperative , USGS Western Fisheries Research Center
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: June 1, 2014 through May 31, 2017 (Extended to May 31, 2019)
Project Period Covered by this Report: June 1, 2016 through May 31,2017
Project Amount: $756,620
RFA: Science for Sustainable and Healthy Tribes (2013) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Tribal Environmental Health Research , Human Health


The objectives are to characterize the coastal hazards of sea-level rise, storm surge, and wave energy alongshore the Swinomish Reservation and the resulting vulnerability of habitats for first foods and culturally significant sites, and develop opportunities and planning tools to build adaptive capacity using a sustainable systems-based approach that can be disseminated using a multi-pronged education approach.

Progress Summary:

In Year Two, significant progress was made towards the accomplishment of project objectives: Collection of new data and the use of existing data to examine how sea level rise and associated wave/storm surge will potentially change the structure and function of nearshore and marine habitats and how these climate impacts will affect Swinomish community health and well-being.

Model simulations examining the contributions of atmospheric pressure, wind directions and speed, and tides indicate that a sea-level rise will lead to significant increases in wave energy because of the depth -fetch limited nature of this system (Figure 1). Because the difference in extreme values of total water level for the 100-, 50- and 25-yr events is small in this study area, a slight increase in sea level is projected to bring about a pronounced increase in recurrence frequency with initial analyses suggesting today’s 100-yr coastal flood event will become a 3 to 5-yr event with 1-ft of sea level rise and a 1-yr event with 2-ft of sea level rise. These changes will strongly influence the geomorphology and habitat structure important to first foods. Plans to continue monitoring biological community metrics into Year 4 are still in place. Developing robust baseline datasets on biological communities across the spatial scale of the Reservation are important not only to know what resources are available today but are a measure from which future surveys can be based.

Between June 2016 and May 2017, seventy-one Swinomish Tribal members participated in workshops and interviews to provide an assessment of climate-related impacts on community health and well-being. After reviewing projected climate-related impacts to important Swinomish coastal sites, community participants evaluated which community health indicators were most important to protect. It is important to note that the participants were not ranking these indicators in terms of their overall importance (they are all considered important), but rather in the context of impacts from the changing climate.  Initial analysis of the data shows that there is a high level of agreement that the most important health indicator to protect from climate impacts is Education. This was followed by: Natural Resources Security; Cultural Use and Practices; Community Connections; Self-determination; and, Resilience. Participants evaluated the six priority sites.  All the sites are considered important, therefore participants evaluated them in terms of the priority of protecting them from climate-related impacts. There is broad consensus that Lone Tree is the most important site to protect in this context.

Future Activities:

As part of the planned activities in Year Four we will conduct a second round of biological sampling on Reservation beaches. Through Year Four we will continue to utilize the sea-level rise and storm surge model coupled with results from the juvenile clam and biological surveys to examine the hydrodynamic controls on species at various intertidal locations. Results from these analyses will be used to inform updates to the Tribe’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan and the Adaptation Strategy for Climate Change Impacts on Fisheries (in production). Project Objective 4: Create assessment and strategy matrices based on outputs of Objectives 1-3 as adaptation/mitigation planning tools in the Swinomish Climate Change Initiative, is the key work product planned for the next year.

Journal Articles on this Report : 1 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 42 publications 2 publications in selected types All 2 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Donatuto J, Campbell L, Gregory R. Developing responsive indicators of indigenous community health. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2016;13(9):E899 (16 pp.). R835595 (2016)
R834791 (Final)
  • Full-text from PubMed
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Associated PubMed link
  • Full-text: MDPI-Full Text-HTML
  • Abstract: MDPI-Abstract
  • Other: MDPI-Full Text-PDF
  • Supplemental Keywords:

    traditional foods, First Foods, community health, integrated assessment, marine science, social science, community-based, survey, decision making, Pacific Northwest, EPA Region 10

    Relevant Websites:

    Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Exit

    Indigenous Health Indicators Tool Exit

    The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community Prepares for Climate Change Impacts Exit

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2014 Progress Report
  • 2015 Progress Report
  • 2017 Progress Report
  • Final Report