Adapting to Climate Change in Wyoming

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University of Wyoming Press Release:

In May 2023, the Adapting to Climate Change in Wyoming grant competition awarded a total of $30,000 each to three projects over two years for climate adaptation planning or implementation for rural and tribal communities in the state. The project leads received funds and began work on their projects in July and August 2023.

Wyoming communities face increasing climate-related risks including wildfire, drought, flooding, and heat waves. This funding competition provided a rare and important opportunity to directly support adaptation and build climate resilience in underserved communities in the state. Applicants provided brief, five-page descriptions of their projects. Proposals were ranked based on their demonstrated community interest, resources and networks in place to support the project, realistic budget and timeline, appropriate and sufficient partners, strong connection to their communities, clarity about how resilience or adaptation would be built through the project, their plan for communicating with WWA and leveraging of WWA resources, their plan for and potential impact of external outreach, and the quality, novelty, and innovation of their ideas. We particularly encouraged proposals from entities and communities who have been historically underserved including Indigenous and small rural communities.

The Wyoming Small Grants competition is being led by WWA PI Corrie Knapp, with support from PI Benét Duncan, Lead Social Scientist Katie Clifford, and Associate Scientist Ethan Knight. They developed a funding announcement, identified areas of expertise and services that WWA core staff members could provide to funding recipients, and launched the funding opportunity. We received a total of seven applications that were considered by a proposal review committee assembled by Knapp that included Clifford, Duncan, and Investigator Ginger Paige.


Project 1: Helping Rural WY Organize for Climate Action

Project Lead Organization: Wyoming Outdoor Council

Project Leads: John Burrows and Lisa McGee

Project Partners: Lander Climate Action Network; Citizens United for Responsible Energy Development

Project Summary: Addressing climate change is particularly challenging in Wyoming, a sparsely populated rural state whose economy and communities are intricately tied to fossil fuel extraction. This project seeks to leverage the resources of the Western Water Assessment to bolster and unify Wyoming’s growing climate movement by supporting community climate action efforts in Pinedale, Cody, and Casper. The project team’s main objectives are to activate, resource, and empower citizens in these towns to bring about homegrown climate solutions. Wyoming Outdoor Council (WOC) will help these communities organize effectively and access vital information so they can influence public discourse and create local changes that build resilience over time.


Project 2: An Indigenous Youth Culture and Climate Camp

Project Lead Organization(s): Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources, Greater Yellowstone Coalition, and Wind River Tribal Buffalo Initiative

Project Lead(s): Janna Black, Wes Martel, Colleen Friday, Signa McAdams, and Jason Baldes

Project Summary: The project leads will develop Indigenous Youth Culture and Climate Camps that will support Indigenous ways of knowing, climate adaptive strategies, and prepare the youth for the future on the Wind River Reservation. These intergenerational land-based camps will focus on preserving cultural traditions while fostering a passion for environmental sustainability. Our goals are: Cultural Empowerment, providing a safe space for the youth to learn ancestral traditions from Elders. Environmental Stewardship, to teach youth about protecting nature and local ecosystems. Climate Action, to inspire youth as environmental ambassadors for positive change. Tribal Governance, understanding Wind River's unique sovereignty to strengthen stronger communities and families. The camp hopes to accomplish a strong sense of place that is rooted in culture.


Project 3: Participatory Planning for Equitable Climate Action in Jackson, WY

Project Lead Organization(s): Town of Jackson, WY and Voices Jackson Hole

Project Lead(s): Tanya Anderson (Town of Jackson) and Alin Y. Badillo Carrillo (Voices Jackson Hole)

Project Summary: The Town of Jackson and Voices Jackson Hole (Voices JH) are collaborating to engage historically disadvantaged and vulnerable residents in the development of the Town of Jackson’s Community Sustainability Plan. Jackson faces increased wildfire risk, flooding risk, sustained drought, and warming temperatures. Water pollution, air pollution, and hazards in the built environment contribute to growing public health risks. The Town of Jackson ranks worst in the country with respect to income inequality, which destabilizes the community and threatens to undermine its resilience to the shocks and stressors of climate change. To advance community resiliency, the Community Sustainability Plan must account for pre-existing risks, the vulnerabilities of marginalized community members, and the intersectionality of risks facing these community members. The project leads will deploy a participatory process that ensures that the Community Sustainability Plan is developed with robust input from Jackson’s most vulnerable residents from the outset. At the completion of the two-year grant period, the Town will have identified mitigation, adaptation, and conservation needs and strategies that will be integrated into the data and community-driven Community Sustainability Plan. The participatory planning process will help forge a strong partnership between the Town of Jackson, Voices JH, and members of the community who are dedicated to improving their quality of life.

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