Mount Shasta Bioregional Ecology Center is engaging the public in an effort to provoke a grassroots movement addressing climate change in Siskiyou County and beyond.
Citizens shared questions, concerns and ideas during a community climate adaptation forum Tuesday evening of last week at the Mount Shasta Library.
This well-attended forum was the third of four scheduled community discussions this fall facilitated by Phoenix Lawhon Isler and Angelina Cook of the Ecology Center.
“We’re trying to stimulate conversation and bring a few more voices into the public,” Cook said. “There’s a lot of discussion at the state and national level, but us ordinary people should be part of the conversation as well.”
Isler started the forum with a presentation on the “Renew Siskiyou,” climate adaptation plan recently developed by MSBEC. She introduced “Renew Siskiyou” as an assessment of climate impacts and risks.
Cook and Isler encouraged community members to read through the plan and provide feedback. The report is available free of charge at the MSBEC website http://mountshastaecology.org/climate-adaptation/renew-siskiyou/.
“Climate change poses real threats to quality fo life in our region,” Isler said.
Impacts included a change in precipitation, less snow and increased temperatures. “You may have heard the term ‘June-uary’ last winter because it was so warm,” she said.
She said the impacts threaten the region’s forests and watersheds with persistent drought, severe wildfire, forest mortality, water insecurity, introduction of invasive species and a decline in biodiversity.
“Renew Siskiyou” outlines opportunities and obstacles in adapting to climate change.
The final half of the meeting was devoted to a group brainstorming session. Audience members were urged to express their interests and propose local solutions for climate adaptation.
Concerns and criticism regarding the Crystal Geyser water bottling plant dominated the initial discussion until Isler requested the group expand into other topics.
The audience wanted to know how Crystal Geyser was planning to dispose of effluent from the plant, what’s holding up the EIR process and whether there was a limit to the number of gallons they could extract.
Cook said MSBEC is interested in trying to change the water ordinance in Siskiyou County. She said they’re working with representatives in Sacramento to possibly create a state-wide water bottling moratorium.
“This is happening all over California. We’re really trying to get local support and especially connect with people in the political arena,” Cook said.
One citizen requested that MSBEC make an effort to educate the public on the EIR process.
The audience had questions about the politics of water rights, forest management and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.
Someone asked if farmers will face water restrictions for growing livestock fodder.
Water-thirsty alfalfa is by far the most popular crop grown in Siskiyou County, accounting for 59% of all crops, according to data from MSBEC’s Renew Siskiyou report. “Demand for water in Siskiyou County is overwhelmingly dominated by agricultural users,” the report states.
While some large, industrial agricultural operations in California’s central valley are facing water restrictions as an effect of 2014’s Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, Isler said that doesn’t affect the water rights in Siskiyou County because this area isn’t considered a high priority region yet.
Questions were asked related to the Klamath River dams and the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement. Isler said she would be interested in developing an informational presentation on the TPP so people can better understand its significance.
A program to help thin the forest and provide firewood to low income households was suggested.
Toward the end of the forum, Isler proposed continuing the conversation in a Facebook group.
“A lot of people might not be able to come out to these meetings because of other obligations,” she said, “but anyone can participate on social media.”
The next community forum is scheduled for Dec. 15 at the library.
More information can be found at MSBEC’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/mtshastaecology?_rdr=p.