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The Wind River Indian Reservation’s vulnerability to the impacts of drought and the development of decision tools to support drought preparedness

Principal Investigator(s): 
Dr. Cody Knutson, Research Associate Professor and Leader of the Planning and Social Science Program, National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC), School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, cknutson1@unl.edu (Project Contact: Jeanne Wicks, Director, Office of Sponsored Programs, University of Nebraska- Lincoln, unlosp@unl.edu)
Co-Investigator(s): 
Mitchel Cottenoir, Tribal Water Engineer, Shoshone and Arapaho Tribes Office of the Tribal Water Engineer; Jennifer Wellman, Hydrologist, Wyoming Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Coordinator at Wind River Reservation; Dr. Shannon McNeeley, Research Scientist, Colorado State University/North Central Climate Science Center (NCCSC); and Mark Svoboda, Climatologist and Leader of the Monitoring Program, NDMC, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Project Management Team (PMT): The PIs listed above plus Northern Arapaho Tribal Liaison, Gary Collins, and Al C’Bearing, Baptiste Weed, Jim Pogue, Office of the Tribal Water Engineer

This project conducts an interdisciplinary, technical assessment of key social-ecological vulnerabilities, risks, and response capacities of the Wind River Indian Reservation (WRIR) to inform development of decision tools to support drought preparedness. It also provides opportunities for 1) development of tribal technical capacity for drought preparedness, and 2) educational programming guided by tribal needs, Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), and indigenous observations of drought for tribal members, with a longer-term goal of transferring lessons learned to other tribes and non-tribal entities. This project has foundational partnerships between the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes of the WRIR, the National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the North Central Climate Science Center (NCCSC) at Colorado State University, University of Wyoming EPSCoR, and multiple government agencies and university partners to develop decision tools to support drought preparedness. Other partners include the USDA Northern Plains Regional Climate Hub and NRCS, the Western Water Assessment at CU Boulder, NOAA National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), the High Plains Regional Climate Center, US Fish and Wildlife Service, USGS, BIA, Great Northern LCC, and other North Central University Consortium scientists. The project’s decision target is a WRIR Drought Management Plan that integrates state-of-the art climate science with hydrologic, social, and ecological vulnerabilities and risks, and identifies response capacities and strategies to support the Tribal Water Code and related resources management.

See related news item on the two page summary of the Western Water Assessment's Evaporative Demand Drought Index (EDDI) which had its impetus, in part, the project at Wind River.