I am the program director for the Model Forest Policy Program (www.mfpp.org), a national nonprofit organization. MFPP works to build the capacity of communities to be climate resilient by sustaining water resources, productive forests, citizens’ well-being, and thriving economies. MFPP and its partners created Climate Solutions University (CSU), a program to assist community leaders with effective responses to adverse climate impacts, including extreme weather and secondary effects of drought, flood, and wildfire. CSU offers a virtual curriculum to facilitate community-based climate adaptation planning and implementation of climate resilience strategies. Since 2009, more than 40 U.S. communities have participated in one of our programs, resulting in increased local capacity to address natural resource risks and advance community resilience. The CSU programs result in an increase in community leadership capacity to engage stakeholders, assess local climate risks, identify resilience strategies, develop an adaptation plan, and put their goals into action.
My role involves coordinating the delivery of the training program and facilitating support services for community success. The climate-related risks of drought and wildfire are a major component of the planning curriculum. Understanding and sharing information about the opportunities and co-benefits of adaptation strategies that help address catastrophic wildfire and promote sustainable forestry are an important element in our work with local communities. I would like to participate in the FAC Network to learn from the network members and share information that might be helpful to others in the network.
Climate Solutions University
Climate Solutions University (CSU) is a program of the Model Forest Policy Program designed to facilitate adaptation planning and support implementation of adaptation strategies with rural leaders, jurisdictions, organizations and businesses. The goal is to prepare and protect people, infrastructure, and natural resources from extreme weather and other rapidly changing conditions for rural landscapes and watersheds. We provide a virtual curriculum to guide rural leaders through the steps of resilience team building, stakeholder engagement, risk assessment, identification of resilience opportunities, writing an adaptation plan, and implementing resilience strategies. (http://www.mfpp.org)
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Resilient Rural America Project (RRAP)
The Resilient Rural America Project (RRAP) is a multi-year collaborative effort led by the Model Forest Policy Program (www.mfpp.org/rrap). The long term goal of RRAP is to accelerate rural climate action by strengthening the ability to serve the specific adaptation action needs of underserved rural communities. The project seeks to catalyze rural resilience by identifying climate hazards, increasing preparedness and protection of small municipalities, forests and farms, food and water security; building rural economic opportunity; and reducing losses to storms, floods, heat, drought, and fires. The project is designed to unfold over several years in partnership with rural community and business leaders. The project uses a co-production approach to meeting rural needs in collaboration with partner organizations, members of the intended audience of rural and business leaders, and with experienced climate service providers as project advisors.
RRAP Phase 1:
Objective 1: Accelerate rural resilience by co-producing a climate training module that enables action on a specific, high priority rural adaptation strategy
Objective 2: Strengthen the capacity of rural adaptation services with a deeper, user-informed understanding of rural needs, priorities, obstacles, and abilities to support rural adaptation services that result in effective implementation strategies
The training module of RRAP Phase 1 is in the final stages of completion with public release anticipated in the fall of 2019. Surveys from rural leaders and climate professionals identified extreme weather as their top concern and indicated a preference for integration of climate into existing plans and processes with a self-guided training process. Based on this user input, the team developed RRAP Module #1 – Rural Resilience to Extreme Weather: Integrating Land Use Strategies in Comprehensive Plans. The training module provides a step-by-step process in six phases to understand the impacts of extreme weather, identify resilient land use strategies, and integrate those strategies into comprehensive plan updates. The training materials were drafted as a workbook and evaluated during a six-week beta test period. The module framework aligns with the 7 Steps to Resilience from the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit. The training module includes two major elements: 1) a time-efficient online course to prepare rural leaders to facilitate the process; and 2) a detailed workbook to guide the longer community process of updating their comprehensive plan. These elements help build leadership capacity along with generating the results of the plan update itself. The module can be a stand-alone process or it can serve as a tool for climate service providers offering technical assistance to rural jurisdictions or businesses. Upon completion of the RRAP training module #1, rural leaders are prepared to guide their community in creating an updated, climate-ready comprehensive plan with actionable land use strategies.
RRAP Phase 2: The second stage of RRAP begins in Fall 2019. The focus is to build upon the first module to co-produce and beta test a self-guided training module to facilitate taking action to implement specific resilient land use strategies, as called for in comprehensive plans and identified by rural leaders as their top priority resilience objectives. The next module goes beyond planning into practical steps for taking action on specific climate adaptive land use strategies. The solutions may include land use policies, zoning, codes and ordinances, smart growth, natural resource management, mitigation of floods and wildfire, and other actions that address specific local risks, resources, and conditions. Specific choices for action strategies will be determined through user consultation and input.
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