by Angelina Cook, Program Director

As communities of northern California skate into 2018, many signs indicate that the Mount Shasta area is uniquely poised to prosper. Despite dire warnings of climate change at the global level, and political upheaval at the national level, the communities of Weed, Mt. Shasta, Dunsmuir and McCloud are in a good position to avert catastrophic consequences of unlimited carbon emissions, and emerge victorious in our efforts to adapt a viable economy for the 21st century.

Rising to the challenges of climate change in the Mount Shasta area involves, at minimum, a 5-step plan:

  1. Reinforce water supplies by minimizing pollution and dedicating as much water in-stream as possible
  2. Mimic natural fire in forest landscapes
  3. Reuse organic waste to fortify fertile soils
  4. Redirect subsidies for major corporations towards small to medium sized locally owned business, and
  5. Adopt the “polluter pays” principle and impose a tax on carbon emissions over a reasonable threshold.

While some of these points remain controversial, and require state action to be meaningful, Siskiyou County appears more ready now than ever, to support ecological measures that once seemed impossible. Three most hopeful signs that we can work together to reduce local vulnerability to rising temperatures are:

  • An informed and engaged citizenry
  • Our demonstrated ability to collaborate, and
  • Our relatively intact alpine ecosystems.

Local municipalities and utility districts all show signs they are embracing new ways of doing business. The City of Mt. Shasta is undergoing a General Plan revision through the lens of resilience, and inviting citizen input into the comprehensive planning process. The City of Weed is officially working with advocates to defend their historic water supply, and Weed has recently adopted a communication platform for citizen participation in decision-making through Peak Democracy. The City of Dunsmuir is facilitating Town Hall meetings and community visioning sessions. And the McCloud Community Service District as recently approved in-house waste management. This effort will inevitably lead to waste reduction and onsite recycling, motivated by community advocates as well as conventional market economics.

In addition, local tribes, municipalities and community organizations are working together to finance water supply and wastewater infrastructural upgrades through the Upper Sacramento Regional Water Action Group.

Fire Safe councils, land restoration groups, the Natural Resource Agency, the US Forest Service, private timber companies and landowners are working together to reintroduce natural fire in forest landscapes. The Trail Association, Bike Association and Rail Trail are working to establish a network of recreation trails, initially connecting communities, and eventually circumnavigating the Mount Shasta. All communities are blessed by a generous populace. We take care of each other in times of need, appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds us, and contribute towards the greater good (as evidenced by the per-capita results of 2017 Giving Tuesday!).

Mount Shasta is not immune to the geopolitical ramifications of a fossil fueled capitalistic monetary system at the brink of steep decline. Our communities still face numerous obstacles as we navigate the impacts of rising temperatures and political turmoil. Thankfully, our elevation, freshwater endowment and proximity to biodiversity provide ecological buffers to economic disaster. Considering our ecological predisposition to withstand intense weather patterns, our biggest obstacle to restoring thriving forest communities is miscommunication and non-cooperation.

By valuing natural assets, and focusing diligently on common interests, we have the natural and human capacity to reverse our carbon emission trajectory, do our part to reinforce climate stability, and quite possibly flourish in the 21st century.