Climate Mitigation and Adaptation News
August 12, 2015
A biweekly newsletter of the Climate Readiness Collaborative

There's still time to apply for support from CivicSpark if you are a local government looking for assistance with climate change and sustainability work! In the program's first year, CivicSpark members are helping SACOG to analyze the vulnerabilities of the regional transportation infrastructure to climate impacts and outreaching to disadvantaged communities on urban forestry with the Sacramento Tree Foundation. Members are also analyzing the implementation status of Yolo County's Climate Action Plan measures, and supporting community actions with Cool Davis. If you are interested in boosting climate action, sustainability, or climate resiliency projects for your community, please visit the CivicSpark website for more information and an online application. 

And don't forget to register for the CRC's upcoming Quarterly Meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, September 8th. Learn more and register here
News and Research
Alaska's terrifying wildfire season and what it says about climate change
The staggering 2015 Alaska wildfire season may soon be the state's worse ever. Scientists say that the fires are just the latest indicator of a climatic transformation that is remaking this state more than any other in the US. Making up 17 percent of the U.S. total, Alaskan forests may now be entering a major new combustive period. The blazes are so intense and extensive that they could transform an entire ecosystem, even as the fires also hasten the thawing of permafrost - which itself contains vast quantities of ancient carbon. (Washington Post)
Firefighting costs climb at daunting rate for U.S. Forest Service
Photo: Josh Edelson via Getty Images
For the first time, the Forest Service is spending more than half its budget to fight wildfires this year - up from 16 percent in 1995. According to a new report, firefighting costs are estimated to climb to two-thirds of the agency's budget within a decade and divert hundreds of millions of dollars from fire-prevention programs. The method for funding firefighting has not changed in generations, even as catastrophic wildfires are on the rise, the fire season lengthens, and more communities are in wildfire zones. (Huffington Post, Washington Post)
Forests suffer long-time damage from drought
Photo: AFP Photo / Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images
Current models on climate and vegetation assume that forests recover immediately after a drought, but new research reveals that tree growth slows for up to four years after a severe drought. The effect was more severe in dry ecosystems, and for gymnosperms, which includes conifers such as pines, spruces, and sequoias. This research can help scientists better understand carbon storage in forests, potential feedback loops, tree mortality, and resilient forests. (Washington Post)  
Drought, beetles preying on weakened California forests
Tree service companies have removed twice as many dead trees in Lake Tahoe this year as compared to last year. Four years of drought are putting incredible stress on Californian forests, particularly pines and firs. Weak, water-deprived trees are unable to secrete the sticky resin that protects from bark beetle infestations, and milder winters don't kill off as many bugs as usual, allowing more of the insects to burrow into the bark and feed on the tree. Foresters and researchers say tree mortality is a problem that's likely to become more common as California grows hotter and drier. (Sacramento Bee)

California vineyards worried about smoke impact on grapes

Facing a severe fire season, winemakers in northern California are concerned about that heavy wildfire smoke could infuse the grapes, which will be ready to harvest in a month, and alter the flavor of the wine. After major wildfires in 2003, Australia researchers found that wine made from grapes exposed to smoke could exhibit aromas and flavors resembling smoked meat, disinfectant, leather, and ashtray, resulting in financial losses for producers. (Guardian)

Unusually warm Pacific Ocean 'blob' changing West Coast marine life

Formed in 2013, an unusually warm blob of water in the Pacific Ocean has now spread to cover 2000 miles from Baja to Alaska. The warmer waters have been linked with abnormal wildlife behavior, the appearance of new tropical species (plankton, sunfish), and the deaths of native species such as cold-water plankton, krill, sea birds, sea stars, and sardines. (Link)
The end of delta smelt?
The four-year drought may push the delta smelt close to extinction, with the longfin smelt, green sturgeon, and winter-run Chinook salmon also threatened. In July, researchers recorded too few smelt in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to register on the population gauge. The fish has been in trouble for years due to invasive predators, pollution, habitat loss, and increased water diversion to farms and cities. (Sacramento Bee
Major San Francisco coastal developments advance despite sea-level rise warnings
Photo: Peter Snarr / San Francisco Public Press
Guaranteed sea-level rise has not deterred real estate developers from proposing and building new homes and offices worth billions in waterfront areas. At least 27 major commercial and residential complexes are in building or planning phases in areas with elevations lower than 8 ft. above today's high tide line, with some cities even courting companies to build near sea level, often on landfill created in the mid-20th century in former salt marshes. Most agencies have not yet adopted tools to address coastal flooding, and critics are worried that enormously expensive repairs and protective measures may be in the future. (SF Public Press
San Diego passes law to expedite residential solar
The San Diego City Council unanimously approved a law last week that will lower permit costs and simplify approvals by setting up an electronic application system. The new ordinance will help the city to meet its climate action plan goals as well as its eligibility for state-sponsored solar energy grants. The council must approve the plan a second time this summer for it to come fully into effect. (Link)
Resources and Tools
New interactive map tracks climate investments in California
California is leading the way on climate action, and now an interactive online map will help track investments from a dozen ground-breaking climate and energy programs in a single application. The Climate Investment Map currently maps nearly $6 billion in climate-related investments in programs such as agriculture, energy, transportation, natural resources, sustainable communities, and waste reduction. Additional programs will be added, including those recently funded by proceeds from cap and trade. Other improvements will add different ways of viewing the data geographically (by city, county, or census tract), and tracking co-benefits. (Link)
Upcoming Opportunities
Sign up for the Cool California challenge!
The CoolCalifornia Challenge is a statewide competition engaging cities to save energy, conserve water, reduce their carbon footprints, and help build more vibrant and sustainable communities. In 2014, 10 cities participating in the Challenge engaged nearly 4,000 households to take simple, everyday actions, saving more than 800,000 pounds of equivalent greenhouse gas emissions. All cities receive prize money based on points. If your city would like to participate in this year's Challenge, please sign up by August 31. (CoolCalifornia)
USDA Innovation Challenge
The USDA Innovation Challenge is seeking applications that help build a sustainable U.S. food system by putting USDA data into the hands of farmers, researchers, and consumers. Given its complexity, agriculture has great potential for the use of big data and analytics, but the data must be accessible and insightful for users. Deadline: November 20, 2015. (More info)
CivicSpark: Helping local governments on climate change and sustainability
CivicSpark is an AmeriCorps initiative that supports local governments in their climate change and sustainability work. In its first year, CivicSpark members have been supporting urban forestry for disadvantaged communities in South Sacramento, building community engagement on climate action in Davis, evaluating the Yolo County climate action plan, and analyzing the regional transportation infrastructure's vulnerabilities to climate risks. If you are a local government looking for additional capacity and support on your climate change projects, please consider hiring a CivicSpark member on a 3- or 6-month, or full-year basis. Learn more about how the program works; applications for the 2015 to 2016 service year are now open. 
Local Government Commission Seeks Regional Coordinators for CivicSpark
CivicSpark is seeking Encore Fellows to serve as Regional Coordinators. Encore Fellowships are paid, time-limited fellowships that match skilled, experienced professionals with social-purpose organizations in high-impact assignments. Each CivicSpark Encore Fellow will spend 1,000 hours over a 13-month period supervising a team of 3-8 AmeriCorps Members, managing partner relationships, and proving support to project management and implementation. Encore Fellows would act as an integral part of the CivicSpark team, supporting the AmeriCorps members and coordinating closely with LGC staff in Sacramento to ensure the program is implemented successfully in the region. We are currently looking for applicants for teams in Fresno, Sacramento, Truckee, and San Luis Obispo. (Application form)
Upcoming Events

Advancing Bicycling in the Capital Region

Wednesday, September 23, 8.30am-5pm

Sheraton Grand Hotel, 1230 J Street, Sacramento

The Local Government Commission, in partnership with the Sacramento Metropolitan AQMD, is organizing a one-day workshop on what can be done to take bicycling to the next level in the Capital Region. Topics include the economic benefits of cycling, advancing bicycling in underserved communities, changing the culture around bicycling, bikeway design best practices, and more. Join us at this workshop and connect with a comprehensive network of leaders who have a strong commitment to advancing bicycling in our region and beyond. Please Note - Scholarships are available for community organizations, non profit organizations and youth to attend the event. Visit the event website to learn more. (Register

California Climate Action Planning Conference
August 13-14, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
This conference focuses on in-depth issues in GHG emissions reduction and climate adaptation at the local and regional level. The panels will feature leaders in the field to bring you the most up-to-date and advanced thinking. Join the CRC and ARCCA at a panel on Regional Collaboratives for Climate Action & Sustainability on the afternoon of August 15. (Link)
EPA Webinar: Improving Heat Health Resilience through Urban Infrastructure Planning and Design
Wednesday, August 19, 2015 11am-12.30pm
This webcast will explore ways in which public health and environmental agencies can collaborate to reduce the heat island effect, increase resilience to extreme heat events, and help each other further their respective missions. Join the webcast to learn about EPA's Heat Island Reduction Program, as well as heat island reduction strategies and their benefits, as well as examples from Canada on local government collaboration with communities to reduce heat islands, tools, and resources. (Register)
Pathway to 2050
Thursday, August 20, 9am-4.30pm
Sacramento Convention Center
This annual Sacramento event by Advanced Energy Economy brings together an influential group of advanced energy business leaders and state policy-makers to discuss opportunities to accelerate California's economy through the growth of advanced energy. Topics include changing utility business models, innovative finance mechanisms to maximize the impact of cap and trade revenues, cost-effective ways to achieve the 50% RPS goal, and strategies to increase the energy efficiency of homes and businesses. Admission is free for AEE members and state employees. (Register)
California Climate Change Symposium 2015
Mon-Tue, August 24-25, Sacramento Convention Center, Sacramento
This two-day conference will feature cutting-edge climate research of interest to California policymakers and the public, including presentations on climate change and the current drought, the potential impact of prolonged drought on California agriculture, and measurement of carbon emissions from major cities.
About the Capital Region Climate Readiness Collaborative

The Capital Region Climate Readiness Collaborative is a membership based collaborative network designed to promote greater climate change resilience planning coordination in the six-county Sacramento Region. The purpose of this collaborative network is to create a forum where leaders from government, academia, environmental and community groups, the business community, and labor can come together to exchange information, identify vulnerabilities and data gaps, leverage resources, and advance comprehensive solutions in an effort to create stronger, sustainable, and economically viable communities in the Sacramento Region.  If you are interested in learning more about the Climate Readiness Collaborative, joining the Collaborative, or being added to the list serve, visit: