Boulder County Climate Change Preparedness Plan
Climate already affects a variety of resources managed by Boulder County, the City of Boulder, and other local municipalities. As an example, prolonged dry spells in the past decade have contributed to major wildfires on public lands that have threatened lives, impacted public health, damaged county and city property and infrastructure, and caused accelerated hill slope erosion that has polluted streams and water supplies. Resource managers working at county departments and throughout other jurisdictions already face challenges posed by the variability of climate across Boulder County.
Climate change, however, could pose a host of new challenges and require managers to pay much greater attention to resource vulnerabilities. These new challenges are most evident in planning efforts. In general, most resource management planning around climate relies on assumptions grounded in existing climate records that date back generally no further than the late 1800s or early 1900s. However, tree ring data, climate model projections, and other sources of climate information indicate that the climate system of the future could be quite different from the past 100 years. Thus the plan presented here is intended to systematically consider the potential effects of projected climate changes on city and county planning and management processes and to identify opportunities for adaptive planning efforts to proactively address the challenges and opportunities posed by changing climate conditions in Boulder County. The objective of this plan is to assist county and city departments that manage climate-sensitive resources and assets to achieve their departmental objectives in the face of challenges posed by anticipated future changes in the climate of Boulder County.