A recently released report from the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR) details the steps that can be taken to minimize the threat of climate change on local farms, forests, and communities. In February, Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz released the Plan for Climate Resilience at a press conference that included climate scientists, legislators, and local officials.

“Across the state, we are seeing and feeling the impacts of climate change,” Commissioner Franz, who heads the DNR, said in a statement. “Wildfire and smoke threaten public health. Orca and salmon runs are in decline. Communities are confronting flooding, water shortages, and drought. As stewards and beneficiaries of our lands and waters, we need to take action now. This plan is our blueprint for the future — our enduring commitment that our children and grandchildren will be able to benefit from Washington’s forests, farms, and waters like we have.”

The recent increase in the severity of wildfires, floods, and drought inevitably impacts the local economy. Dr. Crystal Raymond, a climate adaptation specialist at the University of Washington, said that this does not necessarily have to be the case, with the right precautions taken.

“The potential impacts of climate change can seem dire, but the consequences for our natural systems, economies, and local communities don’t have to be,” Dr. Raymond said. “The sooner we collectively act to plan for and manage climate risks, the better prepared we will all be.”

The Plan for Climate Resilience examines challenges presented by climate changes and spells out steps that can help mitigate anticipated difficulties. These include increasing the use of state lands for renewable energy to reduce carbon emissions; reforesting areas with trees that can withstand changing landscapes; and launching an urban forestry strike team to plant trees in towns and cities, which would lower temperatures and capture stormwater.

Since being elected in 2016, Franz has protected and managed almost six million acres of public land in Washington. The Plan for Climate Resilience is a part of her commitment to keeping public lands healthy and productive. To review the plan in its entirety, visit this website.