2017 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 , 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
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, 2017 through May 31,2018
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:

Over the course of this project, Swinomish and partners accomplished several important steps towards evaluating impending climate change impacts to Reservation shorelines. Detailed surveys of habitat metrics and biological inventories provide Swinomish resource managers with the datasets necessary to establish baselines and make informed decisions regarding conservation and restoration actions going forward. Development and validation of a new storm surge and wave model, provides a tool to evaluate the expected change in extent and frequency of flooding, potential erosion, and sediment mobility associated with sea level rise. Integrating the model and biological inventories we have assessed the relative vulnerability of Reservation beaches to impending coastal climate change. Next steps will include incorporating species-and life history specific habitat thresholds to assess future habitat suitability (e.g., beach sediment mobility and composition that affect recruitment of larval and juvenile bivalves, barriers protecting pocket estuary lagoons and eelgrass beds that both support juvenile Chinook salmon) to assess the impacts of coastal change to habitats and the production and resilience of First Foods across the Reservation.

The results indicate that, on average, of the six Swinomish Indigenous Health Indicators, Education is the most important criteria to protect. Furthermore, there was found to be strong agreement that Education is most important across all participants. This is critical because it suggests that community members agree that actions protecting and promoting Education at the at-risk locations will have more positive benefits to the health and wellbeing of Swinomish members and should garner a high level of support. Education was followed by Natural Resource Security and Cultural Use and Practice --also with strong agreement across all participants. Of the 6 nearshore sites assessed, community members strongly agreed that Lone Tree is the most important location to protect against climate change impacts, followed by Snee-Oosh and Similk Beach. The results have been presented and reviewed by the Swinomish Senate for inclusion in an updated Climate Change Impact Assessment report. Collectively, these data can be used to support future efforts to protect and strengthen community health and well-being, specifically by developing better and more focused actions in response to climate change at the six coastal locations deemed at risk from climate impacts. The Swinomish climate change and community health evaluation findings will help to: set priorities; focus limited energy and resources; and, ensure that Swinomish staff and others are working toward common goals.

Future Activities:

To conclude our work on this project we will focus on completing reporting on the project results through peer reviewed literature and Swinomish technical reports. Draft updates to the Swinomish Climate Change Impact Assessment are awaiting review and final approval from the Swinomish Senate, the governing body of the Tribe. Once approval is gained, the updated sections can be formally incorporated and disseminated. In addition, project personnel are authoring two manuscripts for peer-review publication, which they plan to submit once approval is given.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 42 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

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

Relevant Websites:

Swinomish Indian Tribal Community

U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit - Indigenous Health Indicators Tool

U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit - Stressors and Imacts

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 2014 Progress Report
  • 2015 Progress Report
  • 2016 Progress Report
  • Final Report