The Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe (PACIT) and Louisiana Sea Grant are partnering to launch a new pilot project that builds relationships and strengthens community resilience to natural disasters and the effects of climate change.

The pilot project, “Building Relationships and Community Resilience with the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe of Southeast Louisiana,” will support cultural and community resilience in a part of the country where land is rapidly being lost to water. The PACIT experiences ongoing climate-related hazards such as coastal erosion, subsidence, rising water levels and saltwater intrusion in their communities, as well as acute impacts from hurricanes. Taken together, these impacts affect the Tribe’s ability to continue traditional ways of life through farming, fishing and hunting. The impacts also affect where people live, and threaten culturally sensitive areas. The pilot project received a $70,000 NOAA investment in Fiscal Year 2022 which is being administered by Louisiana Sea Grant.

“The experiences and perspectives of Tribal partners must be central to how we build Climate-Ready and resilient communities,” said Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves. “Aligning NOAA’s climate data and services with the needs of the PACIT can help enhance climate resilience in Louisiana and beyond.”

The project has three primary objectives:

Develop and strengthen personal and community connections to benefit the PACIT’s coastal hazards resilience and adaptation efforts. This can also serve as a model for ways NOAA and other similar coastal Tribes and communities can develop connections.
Assess priority climate and environmental conditions that affect the PACIT, and identify ways that tailored NOAA information and resources can inform the PACIT’s understanding of these conditions.
Develop ways to address specific challenges where NOAA’s information, products and services may enhance community resilience and the PACIT’s ability to adapt to climate-related hazards.
“We have been adapting to the changing environment for decades, but the changes to the land have intensified over the past few decades,” said Second Chairman Donald Dardar of the Pointe-au-Chien Indian Tribe. “This project is important to support our adaptation and resilience efforts as we work to maintain our cultural heritage and way of life for future generations. We welcome the opportunity to be part of discussions that value our traditional knowledge and will be used to create specific resources tailored to our Tribal community.”

The pilot project was developed in response to feedback received during a 2021 climate and equity roundtable focused on inundation and flooding in Louisiana. The roundtable took place soon after Hurricane Ida’s devastating impact to the PACIT and surrounding communities. It provided an opportunity for NOAA leadership to hear firsthand from communities, local organizations, academia and state agency partners on vulnerabilities related to extreme weather and the compounding effects of disasters in Louisiana, especially for smaller communities.

“As these projects get going, I’ve been pleased to see how effective strategies are able to be shared among communities of practice,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. “We’ll get further by going together, and this collaboration serves as a model of how to build meaningful connections that get climate information and data into the hands of those that need it to plan for the future.”

By extension, this pilot project may help NOAA identify ways to better connect with and serve other coastal Tribal or small rural communities to address climate change impacts. The project can also serve as a roadmap to help communities access relevant NOAA climate data and connect with other federal agencies with key climate and disaster resilience services. The work of this pilot project is being conducted in close alignment with a project between Louisiana Sea Grant and the PACIT funded by the Environmental Protection Agency to develop a Tribal Coastal Resilience Index (T-CRI) which is a self assessment tool that can be leveraged with localized applications of NOAA data, tools and services to provide Tribal communities with a clear picture of their own resilience strengths and needs, as well as information resources to assist users with the next steps in enhancing their climate resilience and adaptation efforts.

“I am excited about this opportunity to connect the Tribe to NOAA’s climate data, tools and services in support of their effort to develop a comprehensive community-based strategy to become more resilient to future storms and other coastal hazards,” said Matthew Bethel, Louisiana Sea Grant associate executive director of research. “This project leverages ongoing collaborative efforts with the PACIT such as the development of the T-CRI, and is part of Louisiana Sea Grant’s continued partnership with NOAA on critical work to help address climate adaptation and resilience priorities for coastal communities across the region.”

This pilot project builds on NOAA’s commitment to sustained engagement with underserved communities, and is part of an investment in seven pilot projects happening across the country. These pilots are each taking a unique, place-based approach to helping vulnerable communities better understand, prepare for and respond to climate change.

Source: Weather Ready Nation