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Climate Ready Truckee: Town reveals first climate vulnerability plan

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Truckee’s first climate vulnerability and assessment plan was introduced at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting, outlining dozens of strategies and goals regarding how the town may deal with future climate change.

The goal of the Climate Ready Truckee plan is to put in place the policies and mechanisms necessary to ensure the town’s resilience to the challenges posed by climate change.

“We know Truckee’s climate is already changing and we want to know how we should plan for the future,” said Dr. Marni Koopman, climate change scientist for the Geos Institute, which worked with the town to develop the vulnerability and assessment plan. “What is the overall magnitude of change that we can expect and then how to adapt the people, and resources of Truckee for that future.”

During her presentation Koopman outlined a number of future climate conditions. If little to nothing is done about climate change, research suggests the town could see an average increase in temperatures of 6 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050. April snowpack could be reduced by up to 71% along with 55 to 68 fewer nights below freezing.

“We must take action now to simultaneously reduce future greenhouse gas emissions’ and prepare for changes that are imminent.”Truckee Mayor David Polivy

By 2080, the area could see an average increase in temperature of 8 to 11 degrees, 32 to 57 more days above 90 degrees, and a loss of up to 96% of April snowpack.

Higher temperatures and less snow, according to the report, are likely to result in declines in water and air quality, more pests and diseases, larger storms with more flooding, changes in wildlife, and the loss of the way the area’s natural systems function. However, if emissions are significantly reduced, the report indicates warming could level off by the 2050s.

The project identified the declining snowpack as the most likely to severely impact the region. A continued loss of snowpack would reduce revenue for local government and the town due to a loss in tourism brought in by the ski industry, while changes in the time of the year when snow begins to melt would likely impact wildlife and natural systems in the region. Also identified as top climate hazards facing the town were severe heat, larger storms, pests and disease, rain-on-snow, loss of nature, and wildfire and smoke.

COMMITMENTS MADE

Truckee has thus far already adopted aggressive greenhouse gas emission targets, and by 2030 the town aims for all electricity to come from renewable sources. The town has also committed to reducing emissions by 80% by 2040, and has a goal of being completely renewable by 2050.

The Climate Ready Truckee plan, which is the culmination of roughly two and a half years of work, outlined four main objectives. The first is to include diverse and disadvantaged segments of the community in the climate adaption planning process. The second is to conduct a vulnerability assessment of the facilities, infrastructure, transportation systems, structures, and populations that will be impacted by climate change. The third objective is to develop adaptation goals, policies, and actions addressing the impacts identified in the vulnerability assessment to enhance the community’s resilience to climate change. Finally, the projects is looking to update the safety element and other relevant elements of the general plan, to incorporate adaption strategies.

“Global climate change is a serious and immediate concern for our local environment, as well as our mountain character and way of life in Truckee,” said Mayor David Polivy in a letter attached to the report. “The impacts of climate change can greatly increase the potential hazards, such as wildfire and flooding, and adversely impact our local businesses, winter sports, outdoor recreations, and more. We must take action now to simultaneously reduce future greenhouse gas emissions and prepare for changes that are imminent.”

In order to create healthy residents, natural capital, sustainable businesses, resilient infrastructure, and community readiness, the Climate Ready Truckee plan provides specific strategies and actions needed to achieve a number goals.

Goals identified include having healthy residents, which outlines everything from protecting people from smoke and heat to strategies on creating positive mental health; protecting the area’s natural capital by creating wildfire resistance and resilience and protecting and restoring native habitats and species; creating sustainable businesses, which includes ensuring green jobs and living wages; to have resilient infrastructure in place, which not only includes plans to protect homes, businesses, and vulnerable infrastructure, but also details the need for a plan for potential climate refugees as areas in the Central Valley and in Reno could become more inhospitable due to extreme heat by the middle of the century; and finally, to increase the towns preparation, response, recovery, and mitigation efforts when extreme situations like fire or flooding arise.

To view the entire Climate Ready Truckee plan, visit http://www.climatewise.org or http://www.townoftruckee.com.

Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at [email protected] or 530-550-2643.



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