Missoula is a Climate Ready Community!

Now more than ever, it is important to ensure that our communities are resilient to the changes of the future. The climate crisis and COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to consider the resilience of our societies and the ways we can adapt to large-scale disruptions. While both crises are daunting, in 2018 the residents of Missoula, MT used the Climate Ready Communities Practical Guide to Building Resilience to begin their climate resilience process. With this “do-it-yourself” approach, Missoula has created a custom strategic plan that promises a safer future for their community.

After two years of planning, Climate Ready Missoula was adopted by both city and county governments. The plan includes a thorough vulnerability assessment and illustrates three alarming climate scenarios based on current climate projections. The urgency of climate change is clearly stated throughout the plan, but it maintains that with immediate action, the community can take meaningful strides towards effective adaptations. In addition, Climate Ready Missoula highlights the importance of inclusivity within the adaptation process that will benefit all sectors of society.

Climate Ready Missoula has always relied on contributions from the community to find sustainable solutions for a changing climate. Hundreds of residents, businesses and organizations attended workshops and open-houses to reach a comprehensive list of goals and strategies. The adopted version of Climate Ready Communities includes 29 goals and 77 strategies that are grouped into 8 sectors:

  1. Agriculture
  2. Buildings, Land Use, and Transportation
  3. Business, Recreation, and Tourism
  4. Ecosystems and Wildfire
  5. Emergency Preparedness and Response
  6. Energy
  7. Water
  8. Wildfire Smoke, Heat, and Health

Though the plan has established these 8 different sectors, many of the goals are part of multiple sectors. This design is meant to show interconnectedness within the community and our dependence on one another to achieve climate resilience.

(Video developed by Climate Ready Missoula)

As the plan reaches its implementation phase, the community will prioritize goals that address climate and COVID-19 adaptation. One of the plan’s four leaders, Amy Cilimburg stated, “We’re really focused on individual homes and indoor air quality as a way to help protect people because we know that wildfire smoke and air pollution exacerbate respiratory disease and overlaps with COVID.” The leadership team has identified 6 goals and 13 strategies that emphasize the intersections between air quality and health. With the help of state and federal grants, the city can soon begin to upgrade air filtration systems and conduct indoor air quality assessments. Despite the complexities of the COVID-19 pandemic, Missoula is still fully committed to implementation of Climate Ready Missoula.

Missoula County is actively working to strengthen their future and protect all those who are vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Through clear-cut goals and strategies, Climate Ready Missoula addresses the diverse needs of the community. Climate Ready Missoula shows us that it is critical that we all work together in finding sustainable solutions to build resilient communities. 

Learn more about the Practical Guide to Building Resilience used by Missoula, and start planning for climate resilience today.

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Initiative of
Geos Institute

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