WEATHER IN LINCOLN COUNTY

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Planning for climate change along the Oregon Coast

Provided by Oregon Shores Project Pioneers

OREGON SHORES PROJECT PIONEERS CLIMATE CHANGE RESPONSE

The Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition has launched a pilot project in Lincoln County that will explore a grassroots approach to long-range planning for climate change impacts. The eventual goal of the Coastal Climate Change Adaptation Project is to develop community-based plans for the entire coastal region. But for this first year, Oregon Shores is seeking the help of Lincoln County citizens in laying the groundwork.

At a public meeting Aug. 17, 7 p.m. at the Oregon Coast Community College’s Newport branch (Room 62—the lecture hall), the project will host speakers from two community efforts at climate change planning that have already taken place, in Neskowin and Port Orford. Those potentially interested in participating in the Oregon Shores project are invited to attend the free event and learn more.

Funded in part by grants from the Meyer Memorial Trust and Spirit Mountain Community Fund, the project is aimed at bolstering the resilience of both natural and human communities in the face of probable climate change impacts. From rising sea levels and increased erosion, to changes in estuaries and potential loss of marshes, to intensified droughts and flooding, climate change will re-shape the Oregon coast and threaten infrastructure. The goal of the Oregon Shores project is long-range, adaptive planning, enabling us to respond thoughtfully to these challenges.

  It is implicit in this project that climate change driven by global warming due to our emission of carbon dioxide and other “greenhouse gases” is an inescapable reality, a conviction shared by 97% of scientists in relevant fields.  However, adaptive planning doesn’t require assumptions about the pace and intensity of these changes.  Rather, it is the development of a method for the community to respond flexibly over decades as knowledge increases and the effects of climate change become apparent. 

The project enabled us to bring aboard a volunteer coordinator, Paris Edwards, who is now working actively to organize “core teams” of citizen planners (one team will work county-wide, while others will focus on the Newport and Yachats-south county areas). The core teams will help Oregon Shores organize a broader constituency for adaptive planning, assist in reviewing educational materials and collaborate with Oregon Shores staff and board members in developing adaptive plans.


  
While the core teams have already begun meeting, more volunteers are welcome and needed. In addition to the core teams, interested county residents are sought for a larger network we are organizing, which ideally will include all citizens concerned about climate change and willing to be part of the search for constructive responses. Regular updates on the project will be found on the “Climate Action” page of our website, www.oregonshores.org. Contact Paris Edwards at (541) 414-9371, paris@oregonshores.org.

We have been meeting with city and county officials to brief them on the project. This first pilot project year is exploratory, not adversarial. One goal of the project is to develop collaborative relationships with local government. By the end of this first year, sample plans will have been drafted. These won’t be definitive. Rather, they will be the starting point for the next round of activity in following years, as the core teams lead a community discussion based on specific planning choices. Eventually, a final proposal will be honed and offered to local government decision-makers. At that point, if the project succeeds, a broad grassroots network of well-informed citizens will be in place to push for far-sighted steps to plan for adaptation to climate change effects.

If all goes well, even as Lincoln County’s citizen planners refine a proposal and build grassroots support, the project will begin the process anew in other coastal counties.

Climate change will re-shape the Oregon coast—and for that matter the planet. Even if we were to stop using fossil fuels and adding greenhouse gasses to the atmosphere tomorrow, significant changes are already on their way. With the Coastal Climate Change Adaptation Project, Oregon Shores hopes to begin developing a broad constituency for intelligent, creative responses to this vast challenge.

Phillip Johnson, Executive Director
Oregon Shores Conservation Coalition
(503) 754-9303
phillip@oregonshores.org

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