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NIDIS and the University of Colorado-Boulder Masters of the Environment Program are teaming up on two drought-related research projects. One project team will examine drought vulnerability and information needs for the outdoor recreation industry. The other project team will develop a NIDIS tribal engagement strategy and other tools to ensure tribal communities have the drought data and resources they need. Both projects will be completed by the end of 2019. Contact us at for more information on either project.

Outdoor Recreation Project

The primary objective of this project is to identify and meet the drought information needs of various outdoor recreation sectors in the Intermountain West. The project aims to expand the scope of available resources by interviewing and surveying stakeholders to identify undersupplied types of drought information. In order to close these information gaps, the project will deliver recommendations to NIDIS regarding new content for the U.S. Drought Portal. In doing so, this project aims to reduce the drought vulnerability of business owners in the outdoor recreation sector, and in particular, water-based outdoor recreation activities, such as skiing, whitewater rafting, and fishing.
In addition to these content recommendations, this project will produce a suite of documents including summaries of stakeholder survey and interviews, profiles of generalized stakeholder informational needs, risk and vulnerability analyses, and a working prototype of a web-based drought tool for the outdoor recreation industry. Ideally, the work can be replicated in other Drought Early Warning System (DEWS) regions.

Tribal Engagement Project

The goal of this project is to strategically address the drought information needs of tribal communities in the Missouri River Basin and Midwest regions. The project team will map key tribal contacts and boundary organizations for each region and identify capacity gaps. From there, they will develop a tribal drought vulnerability map, corresponding tribal drought snapshots, and gaps and needs to solidify drought early warning in collaboration with communities and partners. All of these will ultimately feed into a NIDIS Tribal Drought Resilience Engagement Strategy that will build drought resilience by strengthening collaboration with indigenous communities.

Initially, the project will focus on tribes in Missouri River Basin and Midwest; however, the experiences in these regions, along with the engagement strategy, could be rolled out in all of the NIDIS DEWS regions.This would benefit tribes nationally, particularly those who are the most vulnerable to the impacts of drought and have the least capacity and resources.

CU-MENV Program

The Masters of the Environment is an intensive 17-month professional graduate program at CU-Boulder. Specialization areas include Environmental Policy, Sustainability Planning and Management, Renewable Energy, and Sustainable Food Systems. A major component of the program is a year-long Capstone project, which students develop in collaboration with their chosen partner organization.