Native Village of Georgetown Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment
The Native village of Georgetown is located on the Kuskokwim River, in the Kilbuck-Kuskokwim Mountains, at its convergence with the George River. Georgetown Tribal Council (GTC) is the governing body for the federally recognized tribe of the Native Village of Georgetown, Alaska. While most members of the tribe do not currently live in Georgetown, there are plans for former Georgetown residents and their descendants to move back home. Currently, most of the 120 members still live in the area primarily in Bethel and other nearby Kuskokwim River villages.
The Geos Institute worked with the Georgetown Tribal Council to conduct a climate change vulnerability assessment for the native village site and surrounding area. We combined the best available data and model projections with Traditional Knowledge collected from tribal elders. This combination of traditional knowledge and modern science made for a powerful story about ongoing change across the Middle Kuskokwim region.
The Vulnerability Assessment revealed that some of the greatest risks to the Native Village of Georgetown include:
- Increasingly unsafe conditions and lack of transportation routes due to melting ice roads
- Less predictable and reliable berry harvest
- New and/or increasing disease in salmon, affecting quality of meat and quantity of harvest; also disease in moose and other game
- Contamination of well water from warmer temperatures and melting permafrost causing flood impacts to septic systems
The next steps will be to develop adaptation strategies for the Native Village of Georgetown and surrounding villages of the Middle Kuskokwim Region. Some strategies were identified during the Vulnerability Assessment process, but others will need to be developed and prioritized for a more comprehensive and cohesive approach.