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Nevada Scientists and Indian Tribal Members Talk Climate Change Realities

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On Saturday, Nevada scientists and American Indian Tribal Members explained climate change realities at The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting.

Shifting ecosystems are impacting Nevada Indian communities. The "Climate, Water, and the American Farmer" symposium highlighted two significant research and public outreach projects led by the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR) and the Desert Research Institute (DRI), in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey.

Led by Maureen McCarthy, Ph.D., Tahoe and Great Basin Research Director at UNR, the symposium dove into issues of water rights, changes in land use, and sustaining cultural and natural resources. Water for the Seasons Project focuses on the Truckee-Carson River System as a model for snow-fed arid-land river systems across the American West.

"American Indian tribes currently possess some of the most senior water rights available," McCarthy explained. "Yet extreme, ongoing droughts in our region combined with changes in winter precipitation timing and form are complicating the allocation and use of water in the West and stimulating Tribes, States, and the Federal Government to negotiate equitable and sustainable water right settlements to ensure traditional and production agricultural practices are available to future generations."

The Native Waters on Arid Lands Project is working directly with tribal members. Combining ecological research led by Beveraly Ramsy, Ph.D., Executive Director of the DRI's Earth and Ecosystem Sciences Division, water rights policy, led by Derek Kauneckis, Ph.D., DRI Affiliate Faculty and Associate Professor at Ohio University, and paleoecological records to identify potential enhancements in community resilience.

The five-year program brings together faculty and students from UNR, DRI, University of Arizona, Utah State, The First Americans (1994) Land-Grant Consortium (FALCON), U.S. Geological Survey, and Ohio University, all in an effort to enhance community resilience.


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