Warmer weather, weaker snowpack among concerns
Methow Valley now has its own climate action plan, aimed at helping people and businesses in the valley cope with the threats of climate change – including less water and a weaker snowpack; the impacts of warmer weather on agriculture, forests and wildlife; and the economic pressures that accompany these changes.
The plan is the culmination of two years of research and information gathering by Resilient Methow, a team of 60 dedicated local people with expertise in fields ranging from agriculture and tourism to ecology. forestry.
To help set priorities and goals, Resilient Methow brought in experts in transportation systems, air quality and emissions. They also sought input from community members – a diverse group of business owners, local governments and tribes – and heard from 500 of them.
As befits a plan to carry the valley and its people over the next half century, young people have been an integral part of developing the plan’s goals and strategies and will play a key role in their implementation.
The plan outlines the impacts of climate change – many of which are already being felt – and proposes immediate and long-term interventions that will allow the valley to adapt and thrive. Many interventions build on existing programs, such as water meters, public transport, and recycling and reuse projects. Others will take time to build and finance.
The principle of fairness was central to all aspects of the plan and the solutions proposed. The plan recognizes that people who are already struggling due to socio-economic factors or health problems are among the most vulnerable to climate change and have fewer resources to deal with these impacts. Thus, the plan supports the weatherization and retrofitting of subsidized homes, making locally grown food more affordable and strengthening the economy with paid jobs such as repairing household appliances.
It also sets out ambitious fundamental changes in infrastructure and land use policies that will require collaboration, policy changes and funding from county, state and federal governments.
The detailed plan may seem intimidating, but it is divided into sections that outline goals and priorities, list practical strategies for implementing those goals, and provide a roadmap for implementing the suggestions. A two-page summary highlights the impacts the valley can expect over the coming decades, the goals and core values, and the immediate and longer-term key actions.
The plan was released six weeks after the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned the world was at a critical point. While the impacts of greenhouse gas emissions are accelerating – and without immediate action, the consequences in just 10 years could be devastating – there is hope. Sustained reductions in emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases could quickly improve air quality and help stabilize global temperatures, according to the report.
The figures in the plan show where Methow needs to focus its efforts. A study commissioned by Resilient Methow provides a striking picture of the ssource of emissions in the Methow. The vast majority – 92% – comes from transport; 4% comes from heating and air conditioning of buildings, and an additional 4% comes from aviation, waste and irrigation.
A detailed breakdown of the transportation sector shows that 62% of transportation emissions come from light vehicles, 25% from tourist vehicles (light vehicles used by visitors to the Methow Valley) and less than 2% from heavy trucks.
As transport occupies a large part of the local energy budget, many interventions aim to reduce vehicle use. These include a carpooling program, extension of existing bus lines and shuttle services. The plan includes infrastructure to support electric vehicles, including more charging stations.
Fire and water
Top priorities include treatments to make forests healthier and more resilient to forest fires through thinning and prescribed burning and securing funding to support these actions. The plan would aim to restore floodplains, provide fish habitat, and encourage more beavers to help store water.
The plan calls for an expansion of the Firewise principles to protect homes from forest fires. He advocates a reduction in home insurance costs for houses benefiting from these protections.
To ensure an adequate water supply, the plan includes water meters, ensuring that there is enough water for cities and making municipal water connections affordable.
Some strategies address multiple concerns. Plans for more trails to connect cities and provide a safe way for people to get around and children to get to school would also provide opportunities for recreation nearby, reducing trips to trailheads.
The plan recognizes the importance of recreation for physical and mental health. One proposal is for an indoor recreation center that would provide recreational opportunities year round, including in hot weather and when the air quality is poor due to smoke.
Plans to strengthen the local economy include barter support, loan programs for tools and other equipment, and education in equipment repair and reuse. He emphasizes the importance of buying local.
The plan contains many strategies to help farmers adapt and prosper. These include a fund to provide grants to help farmers obtain improved seeds or breeders, protection from hot sun and wind, soil amendments, and finding ways to expand the crop. local market for food and other produce grown in the Methow.
The plan also calls for funding to help farmers acquire more efficient irrigation systems to conserve water and supports legislative actions to maintain water rights in the valley.
Other sections focus on preparedness for natural disasters and emergencies.
The team hopes these hyper-local actions will expand into a regional effort involving additional local organizations and governments, which ultimately translates into legislation and funding.
A local problem
Resilient Methow showcased the plan at several events last week – at a meeting of the planning and implementation teams and at the Twisp Art Walk on Saturday.
We often hear about climate change and “global warming,” wrote climate justice advocate KC Golden – and a speaker at the art walk – in the plan’s introduction. But the challenge is also very local.
âWe are causing the problem locally, with our choice of transportation and energy systems. We are impacted locally, as we know all too well here in the Methow, and those impacts hit our most vulnerable neighbors the most, âGolden wrote. As a result, many of the solutions are local, based on practical steps we take in our daily lives.
Many cities have prepared plans to ensure their resilience in a changing climate, but virtually all were created by a municipality or other official body. Although Resilient Methow has adopted some of these strategies and approaches, the Methow plan is the only one created solely by a community group, said Jasmine Minbashian, executive director of the Methow Valley Citizens Council, which convened the climate task force there. two years ago. These local roots mean the plan benefits from invaluable knowledge and awareness of our challenges, she said.
The plan will evolve as progress is made and the community learns more about what is needed.
For more information or to get involved
Check out resiliencemethow.org, where you can read the plan and summary and sign up to receive updates. You can also volunteer to help.
To obtain a hard copy of the plan, contact Riverside Printing & Design at 996-3816.