The Soldotna and Seldovia city councils voted to support a climate change adaptation plan at the borough level.
The Soldotna resolution, passed at the Oct. 24 Soldotna City Council meeting, supports the “inclusion of climate adaption and mitigation measures in the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s 2019 Comprehensive Plan.”
The Seldovia resolution, adopted at their Monday, Oct. 28 city council meeting, supports “the inclusion of practical climate adaption and mitigation measures” in the borough’s comprehensive plan.
The comprehensive plan is used to continue developing the borough and is updated to reflect changing conditions, trends, laws, regulations and policies, according to the Kenai Peninsula Borough ordinance asking the assembly to approve the 2019 comprehensive plan. The comprehensive plan includes details on how climate change may impact the borough and strategies the borough can implement to combat and adapt to warming climate impacts.
The last Kenai Peninsula Borough Comprehensive Plan was updated in 2005. The social, economic and environmental conditions of the Kenai Peninsula Borough have changed over the past 14 years, the ordinance said.
Soldotna City Council member Jordan Chilson introduced the resolution supporting a comprehensive plan that includes an outline for how the borough should address changes to the climate.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough issued three disaster declarations this summer in response to wildfires and droughts caused by increased and unprecedented heat and dryness.
The city of Seldovia and local businesses in the area were impacted financially by an extreme drought this summer, the Seldovia resolution said, and residents had to implement “extreme conservation methods during the crisis.”
The Seldovia resolution said that climate trends resulting in area droughts “will have an increasingly negative long-lasting impact on Seldovia and its future.”
A continuation of current climate trends threatens the future of salmon runs on the Kenai Peninsula by depleting water levels and raising temperatures in local watersheds, the Soldotna resolution said.
The resolution noted that depleted local fisheries and a loss of natural environment would put the city at risk of strong economic and social harm. “I do believe that effective climate adaptation and mitigation measures are going to be integral to the continued resilience of our community,” Chilson said at the Soldotna City Council meeting.
The cities’ resolutions support a Regional Climate Change Adaption Plan, a Kenai Peninsula Borough Commission on Sustainability and other climate and mitigation measures listed in the final draft of the borough’s 2019 Comprehensive Plan.
The Soldotna resolution will be sent to borough Mayor Charlie Pierce, members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly and members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Planning Commission.
The assembly has already received public comment in support of the climate action plan’s inclusion, including two public comments at the Oct. 8 assembly meeting and 10 letters sent to the borough asking to “protect our future.” The letters encourage a climate action plan that includes adaptation measures, renewable energy strategies and a carbon footprint reduction.
At the Nov. 5 assembly meeting, there will be a public hearing and the assembly will vote on the plan’s approval.