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Saturday, March 2, 2024
March 2, 2024

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Clark County Council begins process to address climate change with growth management plan update

Staff to draw up strategy to involve public in planning

By , Columbian staff writer

The Clark County Council on Tuesday took two incremental steps toward shaping the county’s response to climate change.

The council told staff to draw up a strategy for involving residents in updating the county’s growth management plan, a 20-year road map extending through 2045. The state requires the county to revise the plan by June 2025 to reflect land-use changes, population growth and housing forecasts — and, more recently, climate considerations.

A public participation plan will establish three advisory groups: a county, city and partner agency group; an environmental justice group; and a community group.

“Our goal with this (participation plan) is to make it comprehensive and inclusive,” said Oliver Orjiako, director of community planning.

To Learn More

For more information about Clark County’s climate planning, visit: www.clark.wa.gov/community-planning/climate-change-planning

Each advisory group will meet periodically to find consensus on climate and resiliency goals, which will be incorporated into the county’s growth plan by the 2025 deadline.

Staff expect to appoint members to the advisory groups by January, but all residents will have a chance to engage in the county’s planning process.

“I know this is a hot topic,” Councilor Sue Marshall said, referencing climate planning. “But there will be plenty of opportunities to participate.”

Environmental study

The county council also unanimously approved a $346,400 contract to complete an environmental impact statement and capital facilities plan. The consultant, Seaview Environmental Company LLC, will assess potential impacts from policy and land-use changes included in update proposals.

A Washington Department of Commerce grant will cover the costs, according to a staff report.

In May, the Legislature passed House Bill 1181 requiring governments — counties with a population of at least 200,000 people and cities with 6,000 — to incorporate climate action elements into their comprehensive planning.

Within these new requirements, Clark County must craft a greenhouse gas reduction target for the first time, prioritize environmental justice, and address response and recovery with natural hazards — frequent flooding, heat waves and drought.

Some entities within Clark County have already taken similar steps before Washington amended its Growth Management Act.

In 2022, the city of Vancouver adopted its Climate Action Framework, outlining proposals to reach carbon neutrality by 2040. The Port of Vancouver hopes to reach this goal by 2050.

Community Funded Journalism logo

This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.

Columbian staff writer