As our climate continues to change, we are all feeling the impacts ranging from longer, drier summers to public health issues. These impacts will affect us all no matter our political persuasions or social well-being.

A statewide poll published this fall in the East Oregonian revealed a majority of Oregonians believe the climate is changing, although what to do about it is still up for debate. While the debate continues, research and experiences are helping us understand and adapt to our changing environment. By approaching this with our eyes wide open, we can all do our part while building a sustainable future.

Here locally, we are seeing longer, drier summers extending well into the fall. Although climate change is not the only reason for recent large wildfires, it certainly contributes to their intensities and length of wildfire seasons.

Through interagency water monitoring, we are seeing spring water runoff from snowmelt in the mountains earlier than in the past. Climate scientists predict more rain-on-snow events in the future as we experienced in February 2020, contributing to downstream flooding. This also is disrupting fish spawning cycles and other aquatic life.

Invasive plants, such as yellow star thistle, Russian thistle and knapweed, are ever increasing, outstripping county, tribal, and landowners’ abilities to sustain healthy rangelands and wildlife habitat.

To many, climate change has become a gloom and doom story, leading to anger, despair and resignation. We can overcome this by meeting the challenge head-on armed with sound scientific knowledge and commitment. COVID-19 has dominated our lives lately and enormous investments in resources and sacrifices have been made. By applying the same energy to climate change solutions, we can survive this too.

Since the sources of greenhouse gases are many, the solutions should be the same. There is no silver bullet — no one correct answer. We all have a stake in this, as well as responsibilities to future generations.

Over the past several years, the Eastern Oregon Climate Change Coalition has sponsored and facilitated a number of community presentations and discussions regarding our changing climate. EOC3 is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization open to anyone.

We are dedicated to providing science-based information on climate change to our communities. This knowledge will help support informed decisions, policies, and strategies as we move to the future. In addition to periodic community forums and monthly “climate conversations,” EOC3 plans to facilitate the submission of periodic articles to the EO that may be of interest to our communities from regional experts covering a wide variety of climate change impacts as well as ideas for addressing these.

EOC3 intends to share what we are seeing, what we might expect, and ideas for adaptation, mitigation, and solutions. It is all about the future for our communities, region and planet.

If interested in joining the EOC3 mailing list for periodic references and notifications, please contact eastoregonclimatechange@gmail.com.

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Jeff Blackwood spent his career with the US Forest Service and is a member of Eastern Oregon Climate Change Coalition.

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