Resilience plans work best at the county or regional level, and with public engagement: this California county shows how it’s done

On June 15, 2022 in California, Sonoma County’s Climate Action and Resiliency Division and their Agricultural Preservation and Open Space District released the Sonoma County Climate Resilient Lands Strategy.

This is the kind of document all counties should have, but far too few do. As documented in the 2020 book, RECONOMICS: The Path To Resilient Prosperity, Resilience planning is generally far more effective at the county and regional levels than at the community level.

Comprising more than 1.1 million acres, Sonoma County contains multiple microclimates, a wide range of topography and coastal geography, supporting a variety of ecological zones, plant and animal species, working lands, waters and communities.

In developing the Climate Resilient Lands Strategy, the county staff worked with partners and stakeholders throughout the region.

The strategy is designed to provide structure and guidance to climate-related efforts throughout the county, with a focus on natural and working lands.

Alongside the full draft strategy, an Overview and Critical Concepts document is also available, which offers a summary of the full strategy alongside key excerpts.

Members of the public are invited to review the document online and provide feedback over the course of a 30-day public comment period. The Overview and Critical Concepts document has also been translated into Spanish.

County staff hosted an informational webinar on June 27, 2022 to further engage with members of the public who wish to provide comments, or to ask questions about the strategy.

Some of objectives and goals of the strategy include:

  • Conserving, managing, and restoring as much of the county as possible across public, private, natural, developed, and agricultural lands;
  • Focusing early actions on areas with the greatest potential for carbon sequestration, climate risk reduction and biodiversity enhancement;
  • Providing a forum for coordinated action on climate resilience in the county;
  • Reducing fragmentation of the natural lands system by adding to conserved spaces, increasing connections and corridors, and working with private landowners to develop shared management strategies;
  • Partnering with Native American tribes within Sonoma County to advance traditional ecological knowledge and preserve tribal cultural resources and tribal cultural properties;
  • Identifying funding and financing strategies within the county, state, and federal, as well as private funding sources to advance this innovative and bold plan. Identifying new concepts for funding and financing sources as well; and
  • Prioritizing equity and climate justice approaches that are measurable and clear.

The Resilient Lands Strategy helps Sonoma County implement its Five-Year Strategic Plan Climate Action and Resiliency pillar by developing policies to maximize carbon sequestration and minimize loss of natural carbon sinks, encouraging agricultural and open space land management to maximize sequestration, and developing a framework and policies to incentivize collaboration with private and public land owners.

Photo courtesy of the County of Sonoma.

Read and comment on the strategy document here.

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