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Plan Today to Create a More Resilient Tribal Community Tomorrow

October is National Community Planning Month. This year, FEMA is highlighting the importance of hazard mitigation planning in Tribal communities.

Hazard mitigation planning is an important step to building a safer tomorrow. When state, local and Tribal governments make mitigation plans, they identify natural hazard risks in their communities and assess how this risk is changing. (For example, an eroding coastline can change a community’s vulnerability to floods.) Governments, including Tribal governments, can use this assessment to reduce their risk and create long-term strategies to protect the community from extreme weather. 

As of June 30, 2023, 241 of the 574 Tribal governments had current mitigation plans that were either FEMA approved or approvable pending adoption. An approved hazard mitigation plan is one requirement to apply for or receive certain types of FEMA funding, which can help Tribal governments with planning and projects.

How do tribal governments get their hazard mitigation plans approved?

First, a Tribal government chooses to make or update a mitigation plan. One option is to work with other Tribal nations or local governments on a multi-jurisdictional mitigation plan. FEMA’s Tribal Mitigation Planning Policy explains everything a plan needs to have completed to be approved. When the plan is done, it is sent to FEMA for review and approval. 

FEMA offers several resources and information for Tribal mitigation planning. These include:

What is the Tribal Planning Policy update?

FEMA is currently updating its Tribal Mitigation Planning Policy for the first time since 2017. The updates aim to reflect current needs and opportunities for Tribes to reduce their risk of natural hazards. 

FEMA is updating its Tribal Mitigation Planning Policy. Here’s the timeline.

FEMA is arranging times to listen to Tribal governments’ ideas about mitigation planning and the policy updates. As a first step, FEMA will hold a series of formal listening sessions (consultations) with Tribal leaders and their designees. Learn more about the consultations on FEMA’s Tribal Consultations web page.

A Tribal Mitigation Planning Success Story

Tribal governments create plans to meet the unique needs of their communities. For example, the Lummi Nation first made a hazard mitigation plan in 2001 in response to ongoing flooding. This flooding would turn a large part of the Reservation into an island. 

In the decades since they made their original plan, the Lummi Nation has updated it several times. They created a Multi-Hazard Mitigation Team that meets several times a year. They review all hazard risks and coordinate with FEMA and other emergency management partners. The team also checks on the status of each ongoing mitigation activity and updates the plan. Additionally, the Nation has expanded its planning-related outreach to more people. These efforts make the plan a living document that is used on a regular basis.

The photo shows a portion of the Smuggler’s Slough Restoration Project. Marine Drive was elevated, and a self-regulating tide gate was installed. These changes both improved the salmon habitat and reduced flooding.

To learn more about upcoming policy updates, visit FEMA’s Tribal Policy Updates web page. Find out more about FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance Grants here.