El Dorado Addressing Climate Stressors

June 17th, 2024

An article in the latest edition of Tahoe in Depth Summer 2024

PRESS RELEASE- Tahoe Resource Conservation District

Article Authors: Thea Graybill of El Dorado County, Michelle McLean of the Tahoe RCD, and Julianna Posperi & Melissa Baum of the WSP USA Environment & Infrastructure

El Dorado County is taking steps to strengthen its resilience to worsening climate-related hazards like rising temperatures, prolonged drought, severe winter storms, and more intense wildfires. In May, county supervisors updated the safety element of its General Plan, developing a Climate Vulnerability Assessment that evaluates these climate stressors and sets out strategies to keep communities safe in the face of them.

The safety element increases the county’s ability to respond to, withstand, and recover from disruptions worsened by climate change. A key piece of the plan focuses on wildfire risk and climate adaptation. Policies range from supporting emergency mass evacuations and shelters for at-risk communities to identifying natural infrastructure and nature-based solutions for restoration and infrastructure improvements.

Climate stressors are expected to become more frequent by the end of the century, but the safety element provides a long-term planning framework to allow the county to grow and keep communities safe. It does this by identifying hazards, developing goals and policies, and implementing programs to reduce or avoid hazard risk. The updated safety element centers on enhancing defensible space work to minimize fire hazards, aligning the county with the work of the Tahoe Network of Fire Adapted Communities (FAC). “It is always nice to see planning efforts translate to on-the groundwork that, ultimately, benefits our community and could help prevent the destruction of large-scale wildfires like the Caldor Fire,” said Brooke Laine, El Dorado County District V supervisor. “This means we are all doing our part.”

The Tahoe Network of Fire Adapted Communities helps residents and visitors prepare for wildfire on a neighborhood scale by encouraging “home hardening” construction materials, creating defensible space through fuel reduction, and emphasizing prevention planning and education. The Tahoe Network of Fire Adapted Communities is led by the Tahoe Resource Conservation District (Tahoe RCD) in collaboration with local fire districts, the University Nevada Cooperative Extension (UNCE), and the University California Cooperative Extension (UCCE). There are already 76 Fire Adapted Communities (FAC) in the Tahoe Basin, and another 39 neighborhoods are recognized by Firewise USA, a program of the National Fire Protection Association that teaches people how to adapt to living with wildfire and encourages neighbors to work together on larger-scale wildfire prevention.

“This work to protect communities cannot be completed by local agencies and fire districts alone. Significant community engagement and volunteerism is crucial within Fire Adapted Communities,” said Jason Brand, the Fire Adapted Communities program manager for Tahoe RCD. Neighborhood leaders play a pivotal role in FAC, rallying their neighbors to work together in preparing for wildfire. Their activities include:
■ Distributing wildfire-related
educational materials.
■ Planning a defensible space
neighborhood workday.
■ Preparing an evacuation plan.
■ Organizing a home hardening


Photo credit: Lake Valley Fire Protection District

Check out this article in full on page 15 of Tahoe in Depth issue 26: https://www.trpa.gov/tahoe-in-depth-summer-2024/