Climate Impacts: The first and last Hockey game at the North Pole

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Hockey players are planning a game at the North Pole: The goal is to bring attention to the climate crisis.

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Hockey player stick

Athletes from around the world plan to play a hockey match in April. They’ll be surrounded not by bleachers of adoring fans, but by a vast expanse of snow and ice, and maybe a passing polar bear.

Sergey Rybakov is helping organize the event near the North Pole.

“It’s a project that is about bringing everyone – all the countries, all the sportsmen, all the people – together on one topic: climate change,” he says.

Global warming is rapidly melting Arctic sea ice, so the event is being billed as the first and last hockey game to be played at the North Pole.

A slew of organizations and sports figures are involved. The UN Environment Programme is helping lead the effort. It was spearheaded by Slava Fetisov, a legendary Russian hockey player.

Mike Richter, formerly of the New York Rangers, is on the roster, as are players from Russia, Canada, Scandinavian countries, and beyond.

Rybakov says it provides an opportunity for each well-known athlete to learn firsthand about melting Arctic ice. Then he says they can give interviews and share the information with others, becoming ambassadors in their own countries about what is going on globally.

For this game, the ultimate goal is to bring attention to the climate crisis.

Yurok Tribe awarded 2019 Equator Prize for Carbon Sequestration Project

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On September 28, 2019, the Yurok Tribe was one of the first two indigenous nations in the United States to receive the United Nations Development Programme’s prestigious Equator Prize.

The award is an acknowledgement of the Tribe’s forward-looking, climate change mitigation work, which merges Traditional Ecological Knowledge with western science to facilitate the restoration of healthy forests. Rehabilitating biologically diverse woodland habitats is critical to resolving the climate crisis.

On the eve of the United Nations 74th General Assembly, Yurok Tribal Councilmembers Lana McCovey and Mindy Natt will be representing the Tribe at the Equator Prize Award Ceremony, which is happening at the iconic Town Hall Theater in New York City. A short film highlighting the Tribe’s cutting-edge forest stewardship practices will be shown to the numerous, high-ranking government officials, international media outlets and celebrities in attendance at the illustrious event.

“We are incredibly honored to accept the Equator Prize on behalf of the Yurok people,” said Yurok Tribal Councilmember Lana McCovey. “Similar to Tribal nations all over the globe, our culture, quality of life, and economy require intact forests to flourish.”

“The Yurok Tribe is proof positive that it is possible to live in harmony with the environment in the 21st century,” added Councilmember Mindy Natt, who will be attending the UN’s 74th General Assembly. “As we restore biodiversity to our forests, we are creating a landscape and a community that is resilient to climate change.”

The Equator Prize, created by the UNDP’s Equator Initiative, aims to acknowledge efforts to reduce poverty through environmentally sound projects. The award ceremony begins at 8 p.m. EST. This year’s 22 winners were selected from a pool of 847 nominations across 127 countries. In addition to the recognition on the world stage, each recipient will receive $10,000.

Residing along the Klamath River in far Northern California, the Yurok Tribe is the most populous Native American nation in the state. For millennia, the Yurok people enjoyed an affluent and comfortable existence, which was anchored by the Klamath’s bountiful salmon runs, the abundant game and edible plants in the expansive prairies adjacent to the river and prolific quantities seafood from the nearby ocean. The richness of the region afforded the Tribe ample time to develop a complex system of governance, a thriving economy and timeless artwork. More than 50 Yurok villages had access to the same immense wealth until the California Gold Rush and ensuing genocide, which resulted in a 95 percent reduction in the tribal population and caused significant damage to the natural environment in the Tribe’s ancestral territory. However, the Yurok people persevered to overcome incredible obstacles to arrive at a positive place in the present.

Currently, the Tribe is in the middle of the most substantial growth period in modern times. For example, the tribal government and Tribe-affiliated workforce recently swelled to more than 400 individuals, most of whom are Yurok citizens. A large majority of the staff are involved in the types of natural resources enhancement projects that elicited the commendation from the Equator Initiative.

The Tribe was one of the first participants in California’s cap and trade program and has dedicated a signification swath to forest for carbon sequestration. With proceeds from the program, the Tribal Council started recovering the Tribe’s 500,000-acre former territory. This summer, the Tribe celebrated the reacquisition of approximately 60,000 acres of forest. The Yurok Forestry, Fisheries and Watershed Restoration Departments are working to turn much of the newly acquired land into a salmon sanctuary and an old-growth for ecosystem. This project will also improve wildlife populations as well as the availability of crucial cultural resources, such as traditional basket-weaving materials and plant-based foods. Revenue generated from the program also enabled the Tribe to recover approximately 2,000 regalia items. The ceremonial items are used in the Tribe’s ceremonies, which aim to bring balance to the world.

The Yurok Tribe is the largest Tribe in California with more than 6,000 members. The Tribe’s ancestral territory comprises 7.5 percent of the California coastline and is home to the Klamath River, the lifeline of the Yurok people. The Tribe’s major initiatives include: condor reintroduction, dam removal, ecological restoration, fisheries management, natural resources management, sustainable economic development and land acquisition.

For more information about the Equator Prize, please visit:

How Yurok and Karuk Traditions Sustain Delicate Balance of North Coast Species

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[Excerpt] The founding documents of the Yurok Tribe, the basic laws that guide the decisions and actions of tribal leaders and citizens, are much older than the Tribe’s 1993 constitution. The people’s true legal and moral bedrock consists of their stories told and their ceremonies conducted starting in the remote past; stories and ceremonies so old their ages can’t be accurately measured; stories and ceremonies that have animated Yurok lives since time immemorial.

These stories, ceremonies, and certain associated works of art and music continue today to express and shape Yurok people’s relationships and responsibilities to their ancestral territory — including the Bald Hills, adjacent redwood forests, the Klamath River, and the Pacific Ocean — and Yurok people’s relationships and responsibilities to other people in and around the Klamath region. Those relationships and responsibilities are too complex to be adequately encapsulated in a constitution or a collection of written laws.

Yurok relationships with other people and with land, water, animals, and plants are difficult to articulate in straightforward, linear English sentences because those relationships form an extremely complex, dense network of moral obligations. People care for all of their family members, and their kin — including condors and salmon — reciprocate the care.

Tribal condor biologist Tiana Williams describes Yurok people’s connection to their ancestral territory as multidimensional. “It’s a web more than a line,” says Williams. “Returning condor to Yurok ancestral territory is really bringing a member of our community, our family, home.”

“We feel like the salmon is related to us, we feel like the condor is related to us… It’s our place, culturally and ceremonially, to protect them,” Clayburn says about the deep connections with every species within Yurok homelands.

Read more here…

‘Fire is medicine’: the tribes burning California forests to save them

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For millennia, native people have used flames to protect the land. The US government outlawed the process for a century before recognizing its value

When Rick O’Rourke walks with fire, the drip torch is an extension of his body. The mix of diesel and gasoline arcs up and out from the little wick at the end of the red metal can, landing on the ground as he takes bite after bite out of the dry vegetation in the shadow of the firs and oaks.

“Some people are like gunslingers and some people are like artists who paint with fire,” he says. “I’m a little bit of both.”

Read the article here…


Historically left out of Western water talks, tribes intend to have greater influence in future

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Earlier this year, Arizona, one of seven states that rely on the Colorado River, was in the midst of a heated discussion about Colorado River water.

“It’s time to protect Lake Mead and Arizona,” Doug Ducey, Arizona’s Republican governor, said in his state of the state address in January 2019. He spoke to state lawmakers in the midst of uncomfortable, emotional discussions about who gets access to water in the arid West and who doesn’t.

“It’s time to ratify the Drought Contingency Plan,” Ducey said to applause.

The multistate deal was the first issue Ducey brought up in his address, and he indicated it should be the Legislature’s first priority. The deal was designed to keep the Colorado River’s largest reservoir – Lake Mead south of Las Vegas – from dropping rapidly and putting the region’s 40 million residents in a precarious position.

Within weeks, Arizona finished its portion of the plan.

Ducey’s address lauded the leadership of former Gov. Bruce Babbitt and former Sen. Jon Kyl, but he didn’t mention the crucial role of tribal leaders in the state. But a recent Arizona State University report suggests that without the actions of the Gila River Indian Community and the Colorado River Indian Tribes, the deal would’ve likely collapsed.

Read more here…

California Climate Investments Fire Prevention Grant

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Deadline: December 4, 2019. CAL FIRE’s Fire Prevention Grants Program (FP) provides funding for local projects and activities that address the risk of wildfire and reduce wildfire potential to forested and forest adjacent communities. Funded activities include: hazardous fuel reduction, fire planning, and fire prevention education with an emphasis on improving public health and safety while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For more information and to apply, click here.