University researchers help Hopi Tribe with drought planning - Albuquerque Journal

University researchers help Hopi Tribe with drought planning

TUCSON, Ariz. — University of Arizona researchers are combining local observations with regional climate data to help the Hopi Tribe monitor and plan for drought on the tribe’s 2,500-square-mile reservation in northeastern Arizona.

According to the university, information on drought conditions can help tribal leaders and resource managers better decide when to stake such steps as closing rangelands, and hauling water.

Project leader Dan Ferguson of the Climate Assessment for the Southwest program housed in the university’s Institute of the Environment says local observations are more relevant on the Hopi Reservation because traditional drought indicators such as total precipitation, temperature and streamflow are lacking.

Ferguson says the Southwest’s decades-long drought has shriveled crops, dried up springs and forced ranchers to reduce their cattle herds.

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