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Kaua‘i Climate Adaptation Plan to launch outreach campaign

LIHU‘E — The Kaua‘i Climate Adaptation Plan will expand soon, as county personnel and contracted advisors round out initial steps and prepare to engage the general public.

Marie Williams, of the Kaua‘i Planning Department, briefed the Kaua‘i County Council’s Planning Committee Wednesday.

“This is the county’s first plan completely focused on climate change,” Williams said. “The community has been talking about climate change for a long time. We’ve already been building these concerns into many of our projects and plans, but this is our chance to come together and work with the public to develop a framework for how we adapt to climate change.”

The CAP team includes members of the Planning Department, Office of Economic Development, Mayor’s Office and Kaua‘i Emergency Management Agency.

Hired community-planning consultants Raimi &Associates have also subcontracted specialists to analyze the fiscal impacts of climate change on Kaua‘i, and University of Hawai‘i Professor Dr. Chip Fletcher, touted as the state’s leading expert on climate change.

The county and consultants are joined by a 21-member technical advisory group that includes local scientific and cultural experts and four youth representatives, including a high-school student, two Kaua‘i Community College students and one UH student.

“We really wanted to treat our youth as experts, too,” Williams explained, noting the county has already met with the advisory group to discuss the CAP’s early stages.

The plan, while dedicated to adaptation, will also note climate-change-mitigation measures, like the local reduction of greenhouse-gas emissions.

“It’s also very important to acknowledge the causes of climate change,” Williams said. “Some of the things we do contribute to climate change.”

Already, the county’s Multi-Hazard Mitigation and Resilience Plan pegs a risk of a 3.2-foot rise in sea level in certain areas, and the 2018 Kaua‘i General Plan requires the county to anticipate at least 3 feet of sea-level rise.

CAP members have met with stakeholders and relevant community groups, and are now developing white papers to inform the forthcoming public process.

Planned community outreach includes pop-up locations at existing events, in-person open houses and an Earth Day youth summit, in addition to online resources and programming.

“We do want the public input to help guide the direction this plan takes,” Williams said.

Councilmembers expressed enthusiasm for the work done and the work to come.

A county climate-adaptation plan has been “sorely needed” on Kaua‘i, according to Councilmember Luke Evslin.

“It’s so vitally important for us to look on the ground, on Kaua‘i, on what our particular circumstances are,” he said, “and try to figure out some strategies for us to move forward.”

No public-event dates have been scheduled, but a formal announcement is forthcoming, according to the Planning Department.

For more information, including factsheets and related county and state plans and initiatives, visit kauaiadaptation.com online.

The website provides links to affiliated social-media accounts, as well.

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Scott Yunker, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or syunker@thegardenisland.com.
Source: The Garden Island

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