Clallam County looks at climate change plans

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County is stepping up its efforts to address climate change, Commissioner Mark Ozias said last week.

County officials will be more proactive in adapting to potential impacts of climate change in 2017 than they have been in the past, Ozias said.

“It’s nice to be starting this conversation within the organization, and I’m looking forward to moving into next year with a much more firm sense of where we’re at and where we would like to go,” Ozias said in Tuesday’s commissioners’ meeting.

Last April, commissioners signed a resolution describing a work plan for adapting to climate change impacts.

The action was based on the North Olympic Peninsula Resource Conservation and Development Council’s Climate Change Preparedness Plan for the North Olympic Peninsula.

The resolution called on four departments to consider projected climate change impacts and adaptation strategies when proposing 2017 work plan and budgets.

It also encouraged the Department of Community Development and Emergency Management division of the Sheriff’s Office to include projected climate change impacts and adaptation strategies in their budgets and respective planning documents.

In a series of 2017 budget meetings, commissioners requested summaries from department heads on how they were planning for and addressing climate change.

“What we heard was, primarily, a list of things that have been done over the last few years to mitigate, or lessen our impacts on the climate, and not so much how we were changing our activities to adapt to what is happening around us,” County Administrator Jim Jones said.

Here are brief summaries of the departmental responses:

• Parks, Fair and Facilities — Ecosystems, water supplies and critical infrastructure are three areas of vulnerability. Lists nine plans of action.

• Public Works — Identifies infrastructure and construction and maintenance as being most affected by climate change. Adaptation plans include the development of non-motorized routes to encourage commuters to travel in ways that lessen the impact on the environment.

• Health and Human Services, Environmental Health — Increase regional capacity for water shortage and funding for algae bloom monitoring, strengthen enforcement of illegal shoreline uses, require education and training and monitor homeowners with on-site septic systems, enforce required real estate disclosures and evaluate other wastewater treatment solutions in areas vulnerable to sea level rise.

• Washington State University Extension — Promote agriculture best management practices, increase regional capacity for water storage and incentivize agriculture water conservation, improve on-site stormwater management practice and continue a food waste reduction program.

• Sheriff’s Office, Emergency Management — Climate change is incorporated in the Hazard Mitigation Plan and Emergency Management Plan. Use data to update these plans and respond to natural disasters as they arise.

• Department of Community Development — Perform a department inventory in 2017 to identify areas of vulnerability and prioritize impacts on ecosystems, water supplies and critical infrastructure. The department addresses or had the potential to address many concerns in the climate change preparedness plan.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

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