• Published in Editorials

With persistence and by taking steady, small steps, Valley residents can do something to reduce the impacts of climate change and its attendant extreme weather events.

That was one message that came out of Friends of the Mad River’s Climate of Change community forum last week. At this well-attended gathering, participants heard some grim statistics about how temperatures are up, incidents of rainfall greater than 1 inch at a time are up, oceans are warmer which causes worse hurricanes and Category 4 and 5 storms are increasing.

Friends of the Mad River – which has led the two-year Ridge to River focus group – is not losing heart over the statistics and neither should we. There are incremental things we can do to affect our small piece of the planet when heavy rains come.

One simple thing is to slow the rate at which stormwater runoff enters streams and tributaries in our watershed. This will allow water to seep into the ground where it can be filtered and this will reduce erosion as well as pollution in the river. This will reduce the washing out of public and private roads. This will save us money.

And, most importantly, slowing the rate at which water gets to the Mad River will help mitigate the impact of flooding. If we can absorb the heavy rains high up on the hills, we’ll reduce what rushes down our roads and into our ditches and streams and we’ll slow the rate at which the water hits the Mad River.

Last week’s forum offered participants a chance to learn what they could do to affect these changes in their own driveways and yards and in siting homes. This is important work and the Ridge to River folks are working broadly across our communities to spread the word and to offer help.

As a result of the Ridge to River work, road department members in each of the five towns in our watershed have been meeting to talk about successes and strategies for slowing stormwater and erosion. This is another important aspect of this watershedwide approach.

The real message, though, was that small incremental steps do as much good as small incremental missteps do harm and that we can and should educate ourselves about how we can improve our own homes and roads and driveways.

Thanks to Friends of the Mad River and the Ridge to River participants for offering us the tools.