Extension seeks Michigan communities for climate change planning project

Michigan communities can apply to be part of a new project to develop strategies for adapting to climate change in their area.

Michigan State University (MSU) Extension is now accepting applications from Michigan communities who would like to participate in a climate change planning project. The primary goal of this effort is to help Michigan local governments add strategies into master plans and zoning ordinances to deal with the potential effects of a changing climate.

Just what are those changes that local officials should be concerned about? Climate scientists predict that Michigan’s weather will be more variable, with drier summers and wetter winters, and greater frequency of extreme storm events. That may mean, for example:

  • More flooding of low-lying areas
  • Increased demand by for groundwater by farmers, tourism industries and municipalities
  • Changing availability of locally-grown food
  • Greater need for energy efficient buildings
  • More area required for urban stormwater retention after large storms

Communities that plan for these potential climate change impacts, instead of dealing with them after they happen, can reduce long-term infrastructure costs and help their community be more resilient in the face of predicted changes.

Two communities will be accepted into the program, with preference to areas dependent on agriculture and/or tourism. They will receive consultation with MSU Extension and climate scientists, locally-relevant weather and climate data, informational maps tailored to the community, and educational workshops. MSU project team members will work with community members, principally farmers and local elected and appointed officials, through a series of community meeting and workshops. Those events are designed to prioritize issues and strategies to deal with them. At the end of the project, communities will receive a report with recommendations that can be used to update master plans and ordinances.

This project is funded by the Great Lakes Integrated Science Assessment Center (GLISA). Participating communities will need to commit time and enthusiasm to the effort. Most expenses will be covered by the grant.

The application process is simple. Interested communities can submit an e-mail answering questions about their community’s vulnerability to changing climate, and how this program might help buffer their community against long-term changes in the climate.

A project flyer is available that includes specifics about the application process. The deadline to apply is November 15, 2012. A previous Michigan State University Extension news article provides additional information about this GLISA grant.

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