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Virginia Coastal Policy Center announces partnership with tribes, N.C. institutions

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    Working Together:   A sunset on Pamlico Sound in Buxton, North Carolina. A new partnership seeks to build capacity for the development of resilience and adaptation strategies that are tailored to meet the unique needs of tribal communities whose traditional lands are or once were within the Albemarle-Pamlico watershed and coastal plain.  Photo by C. Tucker
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William & Mary Law School’s Virginia Coastal Policy Center (VCPC) is undertaking a project with the Albemarle-Pamlico National Estuary Partnership (APNEP) to increase engagement among tribal communities, government agencies, and universities.

“We are honored and excited to work with tribal communities and the project team on this important regional effort,” said Professor Elizabeth Andrews, VCPC Director. “Our coastal tribes, like all of our coastal communities, need to build their resilience to increased flooding and other climate change impacts, and this project provides an excellent opportunity to engage the tribes in discussions to address their unique needs and also to inform and improve the state of North Carolina’s resilience planning.”

Utilizing funding from the Environmental Protection Agency, the project will focus on tribes whose traditional lands are or once were within the Albemarle-Pamlico watershed and coastal plain, which encompasses southern Virginia and North Carolina.

The overarching goal of this project is to improve the environmental health of the waterways and natural resources in the Albemarle-Pamlico region, and the communities that depend upon them, by helping to build resilience of tribal communities in the region.

This research builds upon previous work VCPC has done with tribes in Virginia on coastal resilience and natural resources, including providing research assistance to the Pamunkey Indian Tribe and conducting a project funded by the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program to survey all of Virginia’s coastal tribes about their natural resource needs.

“This project is the latest example of the Virginia Coastal Policy Center’s commitment to ensuring that traditionally underserved communities in our region have the resources they need for resilience planning,” said William & Mary Law School Dean A. Benjamin Spencer. “I am delighted to see VCPC engaged in this effort.”

In addition to APNEP and VCPC, core project partners include the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs (NCCIA) and North Carolina State University (NCSU). The project also features advisors from the University of North Carolina’s American Indian Center, the North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency, and the Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Center.

Additionally, Beth Roach, Tribal Councilwoman of the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia and chair of the Virginia Council on Environmental Justice, will join the NCCIA as project coordinator. Jocelyn Painter, a graduate research assistant and PhD student at NCSU and member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, will assess climate resilience planning and implementation projects by tribal governments and other organizations throughout the United States. NCSU Associate Professor Ryan Emanuel, a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, will provide guidance to this project.

The project team will conduct workshops and forums with tribal communities to share information on climate change impacts and resilience planning strategies, as well as promote information sharing between the tribal communities and resilience practitioners. Ultimately, the project seeks to build capacity for the development of resilience and adaptation strategies that are tailored to meet the unique needs of tribal communities in the region.