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News / Clark County News

Clark County focuses on climate planning; public meetings to focus on resilience, equity

Officials must add component to growth management plan by end of 2025

By Shari Phiel, Columbian staff writer
Published: June 21, 2024, 6:02am

Clark County’s climate planning efforts are in the spotlight this week.

The planning commission on Thursday heard an update on work to add a climate element to the county’s growth management plan. The county’s community planning and public health departments will host a climate-related community workshop Saturday. And then the county climate advisory group meets Wednesday.

During the 2023-24 session, the Legislature passed a law requiring many cities and counties to add a climate change element to their growth management plans by the end of 2025. This includes Clark County and the cities within the county. The legislation emphasized that planning and policy decisions related to climate change do not impact all residents in the same way.

In early 2023, county staff and the county council began the long and complicated process of updating the growth plan ahead of the 2025 deadline. That work has already included updating population, jobs and housing forecasts through 2045, as well as allocating that growth among the cities and unincorporated areas in the county. A public participation plan that allows residents to offer guidance and feedback on the plan was also adopted.

County Councilor Sue Marshall has been through the growth plan process before. She said the primary goal is to answer the question, “How can we plan to address what we know will be some of the impacts related to climate change?”

PUBLIC MEETINGS

What: Clark County community workshop on climate resilience

When: 9–11 a.m. Saturday

Where: Sarah J. Anderson Elementary School, 2215 N.E. 104th St., Vancouver.

Information:clark.wa.gov/community-planning/climate-project-community-workshop-resilience

What: Clark County Climate Community Advisory Group

When: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Public Service Center, Room 680, 1300 Franklin St., Vancouver.

Information: https://clark.wa.gov/community-planning/community-advisory-group

While it has meant more work for everyone, Marshall said there is more focus on engaging residents, especially those who have typically been underrepresented in past plan updates.

“It’s low-income or people of color that have fewer resources to deal with the impacts of climate change. I think that is all great work,” she said.

Marshall said helping disadvantaged communities adapt to climate change will be discussed during a community workshop 9–11 a.m. Saturday at Sarah J. Anderson Elementary School. The event will focus on strategies for climate resilience and feature facilitated small group discussions.

Clark County is one of 18 counties required by state law to create a comprehensive plan in accordance with the state’s Growth Management Act. Other counties include King, Snohomish, Pierce, Lewis and Spokane counties. Cities within these counties must also plan according to the act.

Although the Growth Management Act has been around since 1990, Marshall wasn’t surprised a climate element was added.

“I think with the Growth Management Act, there was all along a desire to address climate change,” Marshall said.

Marshall and her husband live on their farm in rural Ridgefield. She said preserving the rural landscape, where there is more opportunity to adapt and become resilient, will become even more crucial as the effects of climate change are felt.

The last event of the week with a climate focus is the climate community advisory group meeting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday on the sixth floor of the Public Service Center, 1300 Franklin St., Vancouver. The group will discuss a tentative agreement on the revised resilience goals and policy list at the Wednesday meeting.

The meeting is open to the public and includes a brief public comment period. A recording of the meeting will also be available for viewing afterward.

The advisory group, which is made up of 20 residents appointed by County Manager Kathleen Otto, is one of three groups working on the county’s climate project.

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.

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