Chumash Climate Change Transportation Vulnerability Assessment



SB1 Adaptation Planning Grant: Initial Case Study

Challenge: Developing plans and strategies




The Chumash Climate Change Transportation Vulnerability Assessment project will assess potential vulnerabilities from climate change to sites and resources of traditional and cultural significance to the Chumash people. Through research, education, outreach, and surveys from the various bands of Chumash, specific areas of importance will be identified. Climate change impact projections will be made to identify risks to Chumash sites and resources. Multimodal transportation routes will be mapped along with planned adaptation projects by Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) and Regional Transportation Planning Agencies (RTPAs) to identify specific needs for protecting access for the Chumash to areas of Tribal importance. The main goal of the project is to develop a climate change vulnerability assessment of the transportation system to resources of cultural and traditional significance to the Chumash people, and the project is expected to run from May 2018 – April 2020.

Key Project Deliverables

The project scope of the Chumash Climate Change Transportation Vulnerability Assessment outlines seven primary tasks that will result in associated deliverables. These include an Exposure Assessment, inventory of resources (including a survey), assessment of potential impacts, transportation route inventory and assessment of adaptive capacity, and a final report and presentation. The main outcome is the final report and vulnerability assessment.

Lead Agency and Partnerships

The lead agency is the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians Environmental Office (SYCEO). SYCEO will serve as the lead administrator of this project and coordinate with Caltrans and Blue Tomorrow, the technical consultant working on this project. An important aspect of this project is the collaboration with other Chumash bands in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Los Angeles Counties. . A central element of this project is the collaboration with RTPAs in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Los Angeles Counties to identify transportation vulnerabilities not addressed through current adaptation planning efforts


This project was driven by the needs of the Chumash people. The Chumash have long understood the necessity of climate adaptation, and presently, cultural sites and resources essential to the Chumash people are threatened by climate change. This project is being funded through the California Adaptation Planning Grant Program.

Engagement Process

This project will directly benefit the Chumash people located throughout the California Central Coast, who are a key stakeholder for this project. There are unmet needs in current adaptation planning efforts for assessing vulnerabilities of Chumash sites and threats to multimodal accessibility. The Chumash people will be engaged through meetings in each County, as well as surveys that will be disseminated to identify and map sites and resources of significance.

Climate Impact Area

Specific primary climate impacts (e.g. temperature, precipitation, sea-level rise) and secondary impacts (e.g., drought, wildfire, plant migration) will be researched to identify credible projection scenarios (to 2050 and 2100). For this project, potential vulnerabilities to resources of importance to the Chumash people will be assessed using literature and data from climate projections, survey data from members of various Chumash bands, and other information from experts on climate change and resources of concern. Transportation planning efforts from Regional Transportation Planning Agencies (RTPAs) in Districts 5 and 7 will be assessed using geographic information systems (GIS) to analyze potential transportation vulnerabilities to Chumash resources of importance.

The objectives of the spatial analyses are to: 1) identify routes that may be directly affected by climate change impacts; 2) (e.g. wildfires, sea-level rise); 2) identify routes that currently, or due to future impacts, may not allow adequate access to Chumash gathering sites or other sites of cultural significance; (e.g., plant migration to upper watersheds no longer makes current gathering sites accessible); 3) identify transportation routes that are not being addressed by other adaptation planning efforts and the RTPAs.

Funding Source

This project is fully funded at $208,699 by the Department of Transportation, Climate Change Adaptation Planning Grant Program.

Research and Data

A literature review will be conducted and summarized to document potential local and regional impacts of climate change, including data from Cal-Adapt. Other sources, including research from local universities, will be reviewed to fill information gaps of projected impacts at given locations. A survey will be developed and distributed to participants of the community meeting and other Chumash groups.


One challenge that is anticipated is data availability for climate change projections and integration into Geographic Information Systems. Another potential challenge is participation by members of the various Chumash bands.


Each project task has its own corresponding deliverables, with the primary outcome/deliverable being a transportation vulnerability assessment for Chumash cultural sites and resources. The primary objective of this project is to develop a transportation vulnerability assessment for sites and resources of importance to the Chumash people.


The core aspect of this project that could be replicated in other communities/regions is the methodology used to identify sites and resources of significance, to project climate impacts and potential risk scenarios for this impacts, and to overlay transportation routes to these sites along with resiliency projects already planned or implemented by MPOs/RTPAs. This methodology allows for vulnerabilities to be identified and future planning efforts prioritized to meet unmet needs for native peoples and other disadvantaged communities.

Additional Resources

None at this time

Further Information

Teresa Romero
Director, SYCEO