Monroe County forms new task force to address climate change-related issues

Monroe County is taking new steps to address climate change. The county board approved a task force this week to create goals and a plan for climate events.

There have been discussions for quite some time about the need to develop this type of group. Now, county officials from a variety of departments will be working together to meet their climate change-related goals.

Over the years, Monroe County has been devastated by extreme weather events.

“We’re in our fourth consecutive year of presidential disaster declarations,” said Darlene Pintarro, emergency management coordinator for Monroe County.

Homes, businesses, roads, and bridges were damaged or destroyed most recently by flooding in August 2018 and July 2019.

“This was put together to address the increasing frequency of our storm events in the area,” said Roxie Anderson, a land-use planner for Monroe County.

The task force has a series of goals that it hopes to act on, including floodplain management, promoting sustainable land-use policies, and adding new weather monitoring and warning systems.

“Life safety is our primary concern and what do we do or what are some measures we can take for mitigating the effects of such disasters or storms,” Pintarro said.

The group plan on working with communities to remove structures or roads that have a history of being flooded or under immediate threat. Officials from the Land Conservation Department already work with landowners on stream bank restoration projects.

“When those streams and rivers get flooded, they are impacting our communities. So climate change ties into a lot of the conservation projects that the Land Conservation Department is working on,” Anderson said.

While the group is still in its early phases, they hope to make an impact on these issues.

“We’re just looking forward to implementing this and providing a better service to our residents for their safety,” Pintarro said.

As part of this, county officials will be working with local leaders in the many municipalities. They’ll be helping to create some more individualized goals for those communities that fall in line with some of these larger climate-change-related plans.

Right now the group plans on meeting monthly. The next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 4th.

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