Welcome to Climate Smart

Our county is a beautiful and unique place to live, work and play. All of us who call this place home value our rich quality of life, which is at greater risk by our changing climate. County elected officials and employees are organized to serve the public today and into the future, and how we serve the public will need to change with our changing climate. How much our climate changes in turn depends on the actions we as residents, county staff and decision makers take today to reduce our impact on the environment.

Our purpose with the Climate Smart Larimer County (CSLC) initiative is to provide a plan to address climate change with mitigation and adaptation strategies intended to lessen impacts on our residents and the county’s identified priorities and aspirations. A working group of county employees and agency partners dedicated their time and expertise to prepare the CSLC Framework, which contains baseline information about the county’s current policies and practices related to environmental responsibility, sustainability and climate action – internally (organization) and externally (community).

We are now seeking robust community discussion (see Get Involved tab) on this complex topic of climate change. By taking an inclusive approach that involves all sectors of our community we can better address this problem. How we frame this topic and how we engage the community are critically important elements of this project, and research shows that focusing on local impacts and people’s connections to their communities can achieve more robust community engagement and produce common-ground solutions. It is a fair statement that we all value clean air, clean water and clean land, whether we work in a Fort Collins coffee shop or work the land as a farmer or rancher in the Waverly- Buckeye area or attend school in Berthoud.

We look forward to hearing each of your perspectives on how to best address climate change in Larimer County. 


2021 commissioners


Sincerely,

Jody Shadduck-McNally
John Kefalas
Kristin Stephens

Larimer County Board of Commissioners

Why is this Important?


Larimer County Climate Hazards

The most common natural hazards that affect Larimer County are severe weather events including wildfire, tornadoes, lightning, blizzards, thunderstorms, hail, and winter storms. Climate Change impacts all these hazards.

The two most frequent and highly destructive hazards in Larimer County are severe flooding and wildfires. Climate change makes wildfires more frequent and intense by raising temperatures and drying out forests. Rising temperatures are also increasing the amount of moisture that the atmosphere can hold, increasing the probability of historic rainfall and flood events. We are already beginning to see rising temperatures in our historical weather data. These effects of climate change in Larimer County hurt the economy, degrade the environment, and weaken human health.  

In 2016, the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization (RMCO) released a study showing that both the frequency and extent of extremely hot days will increase in Larimer County “depending on whether global heat-trapping emissions continue on a high trajectory or are reduced.” According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Larimer County has experienced the most FEMA-declared disasters in the State of Colorado, with a total of 26 since 1953 (one every 3-4 years). These disasters cause great harm to private property, public lands and infrastructure.


The earth’s climate is rapidly changing.

Larimer County is not special in regard to the changing climate. Climate change has the potential to do great damage to this community by worsening social, environmental, and economic problems. As greenhouse gases continue to be released into the atmosphere trapping warm air, severe weather will become more common and natural disasters will occur with greater frequency leading to a myriad of detrimental community impacts.  Beyond the threat from natural disasters to our environment and economy, the Colorado Health Institute research suggests that certain populations are more vulnerable to impacts from Colorado’s changing climate, including children, people living in poverty, people with chronic diseases like asthma, and communities of color.

What Can We Do?

It is critical, at this moment, for all residents to Get Involved in the Climate Smart Larimer County (CSLC) Initiative by learning more about this issue and offering perspective to address this monumental challenge.  We can address climate change with mitigation and adaptation strategies through your input today!

In 2019 County staff, advisory committee members and decision makers began an effort to adapt and mitigate future climate change. In the fall of 2020, the CSLC Framework was completed as part of this effort. The CSLC Framework, Phase 1 of this initiative, took a holistic approach by applying the Triple Bottom Line Assessment to identify current and future impacts of climate change in Larimer County and proposes strategic action (through adaptation and mitigation) as part of the larger CSLC Initiative. 

The Triple Bottom Line considers the social, environmental, and economic impacts and benefits of a project or policy to ensure robust and sustainable outcomes. 

The CSLC Framework was created to guide a robust plan that is
unique and beneficial to Larimer County. To read the entire
Framework Report go to our resource tab.

 

Climate Smart Approach

Larimer County is taking a Phased Approach toward the development of a Climate Smart Larimer County plan.

Timeline

 

 

 

Phase 1:  Framework

The Climate Smart Larimer County (CSLC) Framework is a foundational document, which summarizes local climate change research, and highlights ways to utilize technology, innovation, and community input to plan a path forward. The Framework provides potential strategies to better adapt to - and mitigate against - the social, economic, and environmental risks that the County faces from climate change.  See theresource tab to review the full Framework report.

 

Phase 2: Community Outreach and Engagement

This current phase of the Climate Smart initiative is designed to foster community conversations that are aimed at understanding community prioritization of strategies to help secure a safe, sustainable, and prosperous future for Larimer County’s community, environment and economy.  Community voices will inform the Framework completed in Phase 1 and strategies prioritized in this phase will shape development of the Implementation Plan in Phase 3.

Your voice is important to Larimer County, please visit Get Involved to participate today!

 

View the work of the Climate Smart Larimer CountyTask Force, assisting in leading outreach and engagement efforts within Phase 2 to keep current with our progress.

 

Phase 3: Plan Development

Upon the completion of Phase 2, Larimer County will undertake a detailed review of existing plans and programs that link to the prioritized strategies to better adapt to - and mitigate against - the social, economic, and environmental risks that the County faces from climate change.  Phase 3 will include development of partnerships and collaborations across Larimer County, as no single entity can tackle climate change on their own.  Phase 3 is expected to include development of actionable implementation steps and identification of the metrics and goals that will keep us collectively on track toward meeting our community needs.  More detail will be provided as complete Phase 2.

 

 

Ongoing Involvement Opportunities

Below is a summary of the different involvement opportunities planned for the Climate Smart Larimer County Outreach Phase. This website will be updated periodically to reflect details and links to engagement events, be it in person or online. Stay up to date by subscribing to our Climate Smart News, following us on social media, or visiting this website often.

  • Series 1 (November and February) // Knowing Where the Community Stands on Climate Change.
    This 4-month outreach effort will inform the public about the CSLC initiative and the work of Phase 1 Framework efforts, gather initial input on the County’s community wide understanding of climate change current and projected impacts, and secure the public’s involvement for series 2.  The series will conclude with a preliminary engagement summary that will confirm the course of action for the next series.
    Take the Series 1 Questionnaire
    Request an In-Person Meeting or Workshop for your group

  • Series 2 (February and April) // Knowing How the Community Wants to Address Climate Change.
    This 3-month outreach effort will report back on what was heard in series 1 and solicit input on strategies refinement and prioritization. This series’ outreach efforts will be framed around the CSLC’s seven planning areas, build on the existing CSLC Framework’s ideas, and include opportunities presented by the community in series 1.

    What’s different in series 2 is a set of public workshops to allow for in-depth discussion among community members. Efforts will be made to secure participation from frontline communities and key industry sectors, including both supporters and opponents of the CSLC Initiative.

    This engagement series will also include a Public Event to present preliminary findings to the community and to involve them in a final refinement. The series will conclude with a final report to inform the Community Response Data and Analysis—basically, a Strategies Prioritization Report for the creation of Larimer County’s first Climate Plan.
     

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Terminology

Adaptation

Adjustment or preparation of natural or human systems to a new or changing environment which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities. Climate change adaptation seeks to limit the negative effects or capitalize on the new conditions presented by a changing climate.

Climate

Description of weather patterns typical for a place over a long period of time, such as 30- year periods, but can studied over periods of time ranging from months to thousands of years.  Climatic patterns are typically described using averages of precipitation, temperature, humidity, sunshine, wind, and other metrics of weather. Climate is not synonymous with weather. Climate is what you expect (e.g., cold winters) and 'weather' is what you get (e.g., a blizzard).

Climate Change

Any significant change in the metrics of climate lasting for an extended period of time. In other words, climate change includes major changes in temperature, precipitation, or wind patterns, among others, that occur over several decades or longer.

Emissions

Substances released into the atmosphere. Emissions are measured as concentrations, typically as a percent of the atmosphere or a ratio like parts per million (PPM).

Global Warming

Rise in global temperatures as a result of increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Global warming is one effect of climate change.

Global Warming Potential (GWP)

A measure of the total energy that a gas absorbs over a particular period of time (usually 100 years), compared to carbon dioxide.

Greenhouse Effect

Trapping and build-up of heat in the atmosphere (troposphere) near the Earth’s surface. This process is natural and essential for life on earth. Some of the heat returning toward space from the Earth's surface is absorbed by water vapor, carbon dioxide, ozone, and several other gases in the atmosphere and then re-radiated back toward the Earth’s surface.  As the atmospheric concentrations of these greenhouse gases rise, the average temperature of the lower atmosphere will continue to increase.

Greenhouse Gases (GHG)

Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases include water vapor (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), perfluorocarbons (PFCs), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6).

Mitigation

A human intervention to reduce the human impact on the climate system; it includes strategies to reduce greenhouse gas sources and emissions and enhancing greenhouse gas sinks.  Examples of mitigation efforts include using new technologies and renewable energy sources, retrofitting older equipment for greater energy efficiency, and changing management practices or consumer behavior. Climate Change mitigation focuses on efforts to reduce or prevent the emission of greenhouse gases.

Resilience

The capacity to prepare for disruptions, to recover from shocks and stresses, and to adapt and grow from a disruptive experience.

Social vulnerability

Characteristics and situations of a person or group that influences their capacity to anticipate, cope with, resist, or recover from the impact of a hazard. Social vulnerability is determined by various pre-existing social and economic characteristics.

Sustainability

Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs through the three main pillars: economic, environmental, and social. To pursue sustainability is to create and maintain the conditions under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony to support present and future generations.

Triple Bottom Line

Framework for considering the social, environmental, and economic impacts and benefits of a project for organization. When all three aspects are considered in decision-making, the result is more likely to lead to a strong, equitable, and successful strategy. The TBL consists of three elements: people, the planet, and profit.

Weather

Short-term changes in atmospheric condition at any given time or place. It is measured in terms of wind, temperature, humidity, atmospheric pressure, cloudiness, and precipitation. In most places, weather can change from hour-to-hour, day-to-day, and season-to-season.

Task Force

Meeting Information

  • Kick-off Meeting : November 3, 2021 (Meeting Materials)
  • Meeting #2 :  January 5, 2022
  • Meeting #3 : March 2, 2022
  • Meeting #4 : May 4, 2022
  • Meeting #5 : June 8, 2022

Purpose

The Climate Smart Larimer County (CSLC) task force will assist with Phase 2 of the Climate Smart Initiative. CSLC task force members will guide Larimer County staff and the County’s consultant in assuring robust and effective community outreach with the goal of gathering community feedback on the Climate Smart Framework.

Expectations and Desired Outcomes

The Climate Smart task force is expected to meet 5 times during the Climate Smart Phase 2 Community Outreach period, occurring October 2021 through May 2022. The CSLC task force will provide connections to the community for outreach activities, review and comment on strategic priorities and outcomes resulting from the consultants work and make recommendations to the Larimer County Board of Commissioners regarding next steps.

The CSLC task force is not a voting body but a sounding board, ensuring that every step of the project fits within the context of the community. The role of the CSLC task force is to be leaders of and active participants throughout the project; weigh in on decisions; collaborate with other groups; assist in getting the word out; and have fun with and be motivated by the CSLC Framework. Meetings will be facilitated by the County consultant.

Members of the Task Force

 
Designee Organization Representing
Josie Plaut Institute for the Built Environment Building and Development
Jeff Wadsworth / Amy Roiser Poudre Valley REA Energy
Katie Donahue USFS, Canyon Lakes Ranger District Forestry
Ann Hutchison Fort Collins Chamber of Commerce Economic
Sue McFaddin Seven Generations, LLC Economic and Building
Louise Creager Rist Canyon Volunteer Fire Department Emergency Management
Brian Rutledge Santee Rising Ranch Agriculture
Jennifer Gimbel CO Water Center Water
Marcie Willard Lightning eMotors Transportation & Local Business
Alex Gordon North Front Range Metropolitan Planning Organization Transportation
Lesley Brooks LC Equity Advisory Board/ SummitStone Health Community Mobilization Experts
Christian Ferguson LC Equity Advisory Board/ CSU Partnership Relations & Development Community Mobilization Experts
Darlene Kilpatrick LC Healthy Larimer Committee Community Mobilization Experts
Dawn  Paepke LC Equity Advisory Board / Kaiser Permanente Community Mobilization Experts
Karen Crumbaker CSU Extension Outreach
Megan Thorburn Poudre Canyon Sierra Club Group Environmental Organization
Fred Kirsch Community for Sustainable Energy Sustainability Grassroots
Sam Moccia CSU SoGES Student Sustainability Center University Student
Haley 4H Junior Leadership Youth
Greg Schreiner LC Agricultural Advisory Board Agriculture
Shelby Sommer LC Environmental & Sciences Advisory Board Environment
Steve VanderMeer LC Open Lands Advisory Board Natural Resources
Jason Damweber Estes Park Municipality
Honore Depew Fort Collins Municipality
Justine Bruno Loveland Municipality
Hallie Sheldon Wellington Municipality
Chris Kirk Berthoud Municipality
Aaron Adams Timnath Municipality
Matt LeCerf Johnstown Municipality
Wade Willis Windsor Municipality
 

Contact

Heidi Pruess, CEP
Climate Smart and Sustainability Program Manager
200 W. Oak, Suite 2000
Fort Collins, CO 80521
(970)498-7138 | Email Heidi