From the mountains to the ocean, climate change is affecting the ecology, hydrology, and terrestrial and marine ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest. The Tulalip Tribes, like other Salish Sea tribes, are caught between large scale watershed changes exemplified by increased river peak flows and decreased summer low flows, altered sediment regimes, increased stormwater runoff from farms and urban centers, freshwater wetland loss, and on the marine side, sea surface temperature warming, ocean acidification, sea-level rise, altered food webs, increased storm surge, coastal flooding, and saltwater intrusion into water supplies. Many of these impacts are exacerbated and interact with each other and existing altered landscapes at multiple scales. Infrastructure such as roads, septic and sewer systems, homes, public buildings, and water supplies are implicated by increasingly extreme climatic conditions. Climate change influences the viability and historical ranges of important species such as salmon, shellfish, elk, and huckleberry, as well as accessibility to and status of culturally significant sites. Most importantly for Tulalip, climate change can affect the traditional lifeways and practices, and the spiritual and cultural health of the community.
The Tulalip Tribes are actively involved in a holistic climate planning strategy that seeks to achieve the development and initial implementation of a Tulalip Climate Adaptation Plan over the next couple of years through enrollment in the Climate Solutions University climate curriculum. This plan will consider risks to, and strategies for, protecting natural and cultural resources as well as infrastructure. The process of developing this plan involves the convening of a diverse and engaged Tulalip climate team representing leadership, membership, and staff that will become part of a networked community of tribal climate leaders. As part of this process, Tulalip is collaborating with multiple partners that include other tribes, as well as federal, state, local, and non-governmental partners. Assessment and analysis of climate risks, strategies, and actions at multiple spatial scales (reservation, watershed, “usual and accustomed” areas, “open and unclaimed” areas) are already underway, and will be further investigated by the Tulalip climate team. Plan development will involve reviews from the tribal community and partners. The eventual finalized and adopted Tulalip Climate Adaptation Plan will serve as the guide for strategies and actions for how Tulalip will meet the challenge of climate change.