Aug. 30: Leon (copy)

Flood damage in Leon after an August 2018 rainstorm.

SPARTA—Climate change is happening in Monroe County.

The county’s board of supervisors responded to recent extreme weather events by creating a Monroe County Climate Change Task Force during its regular monthly meeting Sept. 25.

The board voted unanimously to support the resolution.

County administrator Tina Osterberg said the task force will take a deeper look at climate change, the impact it’s having on the county and then develop and implement changes to better deal with the impacts.

“We’re going to look at what (climate change) is doing to agriculture, what it’s doing to the public health, the communities, tourism, the economy and how it’s affecting all those areas and having a negative effect,” she said.

The purpose of the task force is to be pre-emptive and address things before they get worse, Osterberg said.

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“We look at it as a responsibility to our current and future generations of Monroe County residents to act to prevent continuing damage to our resources and infrastructure and to invest in solutions that help to mitigate the changes,” she said.

She said it’s important to “prepare and not just say ‘OK, well something happened again, and now we’re going to fix what broke.’ Let’s fix it ahead of time before it continues to erode.”

Bob Micheel, Monroe County Land Conservation director, said the task force has a list of 10 goals or objectives:

  • Implement weather monitoring devices and warning systems in real time by coordinating with emergency management and the National Weather Service.
  • Begin floodplain management by removing structures, roads and crossings that chronically get wiped out from weather events.
  • Complete a flood impact study to identify the 100-year floodway boundary based on recent rainfall data and current land use.
  • Zone and promote sustainable land use decisions and improve existing enforcement of shore land zoning ordinances.
  • Enforce land use decisions.
  • Develop and implement watershed management projects dealing with infiltration and retention practices addressing rainfall and runoff.
  • Promote sustainable land use polices and practices that influence state and federal legislation.
  • Climate change mitigation, including identifying contributions and sources, establishing standards for sustainable living and implementing mitigation programs.
  • Provide information and education to the public.
  • Seek funding sources to implement the task force’s recommendations and goals.

Supervisor Mary Von Ruden said she’s glad to see the county doing something addressing climate change.

“I have wondered for a long time why it’s taken so long for us to realize (it’s a problem),” she said. “We’ve had floods the last two, three years that have destroyed communities, and if there’s something we can do or figure out how to do something to save communities money ... I think we (should).”

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Meghan Flynn can be reached at meghan.flynn@lee.net.

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