Helping Alaska Native Communities Cope with Climate Impacts

Located on the Yukon-Kuskokwim (Y-K) delta, the Village of Nunapitchuk is vulnerable to flooding and erosion, due to permafrost loss. In March of 2021, Herrera performed flood and erosion analysis to help citizens decide how to protect their community from the impacts of climate change. This is Herrera’s sixth climate adaption project with Alaska Native communities.

Herrera’s projects in Alaska differ greatly from work in the “Lower 48”. Unlike Pacific Northwest projects that are focused on building more environmentally sustainable infrastructure amidst a growing population, Alaska Native community projects aim to save lives. Natural hazards such as flooding, landslides, and earthquakes prove a grave risk to Alaska Native communities, as their remote location and limited resources make engineering solutions difficult. Despite these challenges, Herrera has developed climate adaptation strategies for these communities by utilizing scientific and engineering parameters, while factoring in climate change to assist with infrastructure design and development.

Alaska’s Denali Commission has identified 64 villages at risk to natural hazards exacerbated by climate change. With this, Herrera’s work with Alaska Native communities is far from over, as our team remains dedicated to helping those at-risk across the state.