Hello, Northern Arizona! This month marks the one year anniversary of adoption of the City of Flagstaff’s Climate Action and Adaptation Plan. Shortly after I became mayor, the council voted to create a plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and “identify actions that will save money, protect community assets and ensure quality of life amidst change.” The plan was developed through the course of a year and involved extensive outreach to the community. The result is a roadmap that reflects Flagstaff’s unique character and concerns.
At a time when government action on the challenges facing our society seems a pipe dream, I think we can look to cities to see what is possible. This plan was adopted with broad support and has been embraced by much of Flagstaff. It’s a practical document, it understands that the tremendous natural beauty of our area is integral to our quality of life as well as our economy. It addresses water and wildfires. It was produced in partnership with and integrates the strengths and needs of not only government agencies, but businesses as well. I believe that good economic planning should include the reality of increased wildfire danger, drought and warming temperatures.
We began by assessing the vulnerabilities of key sectors and resources; for instance, how vulnerable is our water infrastructure to damage from wildfires and subsequent flooding? We also had a climate profile detailing the changes we are likely to see. From there, in consultation with the community, we developed goals and strategies to reach those goals. This plan is not a pie-in-the-sky dream, it’s an actual actionable plan. Furthermore, we’ve devoted the resources necessary for executing the plan. It’s all well and good to have a plan to solve a problem, but unless the resources are there to support it, you may as well just stick it in a drawer somewhere.
We’ve also continued outreach to the community. Every month on the second Friday, the sustainability department hosts “Climate and Coffee” where staff members offer updates and answer questions. Furthermore, the City Council will be getting an update on our progress. This creates accountability and transparency. Here in Flagstaff, we’ve shown that with leadership we can tackle problems in an inclusive, meaningful, transparent and accountable manner.
I would like to thank everyone who helped to craft the climate plan, everyone who offered thoughts and everyone who is working to execute it. You inspire us all. To get involved or learn more, please visit flagstaff.az.gov/3697/Climate-Plan. FBN
By Coral Evans
Coral Evans is the mayor of Flagstaff.