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Investigating hydrologic risk, uncertainties, and implications on Native American lands

Authors: Laura Read*, NCAR
Topics: Water Resources and Hydrology, Hazards and Vulnerability, Indigenous Peoples
Keywords: Hydrologic risk, tribal lands, floodplains
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Characterizing hydrologic hazards and ensuring the safety of community members and infrastructure on Native American Lands (NAL) has unique challenges from the general U.S. population. These challenges, which include but extend beyond: the remoteness of certain NALs, institutionalized politics between tribes and the federal government, limited access to technical resources, etc. have led to a disproportionate lack of hydrologic analysis and in situ observations on some NALs. Since tribes often rely on the natural resources of their lands for economic development, vulnerability to changes in access, water quantity, quality, and frequency of floods and droughts may present more difficult hardships than that of a typical American community. This research uses publically available data to quantify the gaps in, and general understanding of, the distribution of streamflow and weather observation stations on FEMA floodplain studies (maps) on NALs across the United States, compared with non-NALs. Using this baseline analysis and through partnerships with affiliated tribal groups, we research and discuss how hydrologic risks, and the uncertainties in these risks, can and have impacted livelihoods, economies, infrastructure, and energy development on NALs. In this presentation, results from the continental-scale assessment are discussed, as well as findings from selected case studies that highlight particular NALs with significant impacts.

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