Climate Change Officially Addressed in Clark County Hazard Mitigation Plan

It’s a grant funding requirement but fits neatly in the county’s 2018 plan.

by Jim McKay / February 15, 2018

In Clark County, Nev.’s 2018 Multijurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan you’ll find a section on climate change, and the issue is addressed throughout.

It’s an important piece of the document because addressing the issue is a requirement for jurisdictions to receive hazard funding and undertake certain future projects.

To receive $150,000, the county was required to address, in future mitigation plans, climate change and related threats that the county faces. Jurisdictions applying for the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant are required to address the nature of the issue, history, location, extent, severity and recurrence of the hazard as it relates to climate change.

You can find in Clark County’s plan a section devoted to climate change, the history of its scientific discovery, how it is defined as well as related hazards facing the county. Persistent drought, wildfires, even damn safety and pandemics are addressed in the plan.

“The reason that we addressed it in this plan and hadn’t in previous plans is that this particular plan is funded under the grant for fiscal 2015 that required that mitigation plans using those funds are required to address climate change,” said Assistant Emergency Manager Irene Navis.

She said the plan itself didn’t have to be changed drastically from what it would normally have been, but the language used needed to be specific to addressing climate change.

“We tie in which hazards fall under climate change mitigation strategies, like drought, wildfire and the potential risks associated with climate change have always been part of the hazard mitigation planning process, but this is the first time we’ve specifically called it out to meet a requirement.”

This is common when applying for federal grants, such as homeland security grants. Navis said seven years ago the buzzword was interoperability but that’s gone, replaced with cybersecurity. “Now you can’t open up a grant application process guideline without seeing the word cybersecurity in it,” she said.

Clark County Deputy Fire Chief John Steinbeck, who is also in charge of the Office of Emergency Management, said, “Hazard mitigation planning is important to a community because it lowers risks associated with disasters. Lower risks can result in reduced costs for homeowners insurance and flood insurance. Maintaining the plan also helps us to be eligible for project funds for mitigation projects.”

Clark County is desert and receives little rainfall but is right now in the middle of an even dryer spell, so the county has to be mindful of wildfires and flash floods. Part of the mitigation effort includes investing in fuel reduction and that fits neatly in the realm of climate change mitigation.

“Climate change is a term used to describe a long-term condition,” Navis said. “I think the best change is the scope of our mitigation measures over time. For example, investing in flood control measures may make us take a longer look over time as opposed to immediate needs.”

Navis said the reason the Carpenter 1  fire in Nevada in 2013 was so difficult to fight was because of an excess of vegetation that acted as fuel and made response difficult. “That is one example of how change over time and conditions can cause additional dangers. We have to look at it in hazard mitigation planning and see what needs to be addressed.”