Letter: Addressing climate change in Eagle County
The evidence of climate change is becoming more pronounced in Eagle County. Snowpack is increasingly unpredictable, with long periods of dryness followed by more snow than we can safely navigate. The dry periods extend into drought, each year exceeding the past in severity. And monsoons, if we get them, come hard and heavy, causing mudslides and lightning-ignited wildfires. The term “historically unprecedented emergencies” has essentially lost all meaning to our personnel on the front lines as each year’s crisis situation outsizes the last.
We grapple with road — and by extension public land — closures from snow, mudslides, and nearby fires, and smoke-filled air from fires thousands of miles away. All of these phenomena add to the risk of damaged homes, especially in the wildland urban interface, where many of Eagle County’s homes are at greater risk, along with threats to public buildings, businesses, roads and other important infrastructure.
Fortunately, along with several important emission-reduction measures, the state legislature passed House Bill 21-1208 this session, the Natural Disaster Mitigation Enterprise. This new fund will help communities like ours prepare for natural disasters, and manage disasters better, once they occur.
The way this enterprise works is that a new fund, paid for through a small fee charged to insurance companies who provide specific types of property and hazard insurance, will provide grant money to local governments like ours. These disaster mitigation funds will be easier to access so that we can not only be proactive in reducing disaster risk, but can also be more nimble in our response to natural disasters when they do occur.
Climate action always remains a high priority to us, and now more than ever is the time to find solutions to protect our planet for future generations. We appreciate the hard work of the state legislature and the governor’s office in advancing this proactive program. While we work to reduce Eagle County’s greenhouse gas emissions, it’s reassuring to know that we can also work to prevent the worst impacts, and address climate-induced challenges when they arise.
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Kathy Chandler-Henry, Jeanne McQueeney, Matt Scherr
Eagle Board of County Commissioners