For decades, Friends of the Mad River has worked to support the health of the Mad River, its tributaries, and the Valley that holds them. Yet, the work Friends does locally does not happen in a vacuum. Years of greenhouse gas emissions have inextricably altered the global climate. What this looks like for our community will likely reflect trends expected across the Northeast; over the last half-century, the average temperature, precipitation, and the number of days of heavy precipitation have all gone up. The recent 2021 Vermont Climate Assessment’s headline announced quite clearly that “Climate Change is Here.”
We have seen changes to how much, where, and how often it rains – leaving the Mad River Valley community vulnerable to super storms like Irene or months of summer drought. However, the changes seen are not limited to the weather alone. Our water quality, forest integrity, wildlife health, agricultural economy, recreational opportunities, public health, and the shape and equity of our communities are also impacted. A changing climate affects everything from the tops of our ridges to the Mad River itself.
As the climate and landscape change, the community has the opportunity to change too, to reduce our vulnerabilities and build our resilience. How we adapt has become the question of the day, the year, the decade. Fostering conversations about responding to climate change within the MRV community is a key piece of Friends’ climate focus.
In support of this work, Friends launched the Changing Climate and Landscape Survey as a way to learn from the community how you have experienced these changes, what concerns you, what opportunities you see, and your interest in coming together to discuss and tackle these challenging issues. Change brings questions, but it also reminds us of where we have been and what we cherish most. By sharing your important input with Friends, you help paint a fuller picture of what a changing climate and landscape looks like in the Mad River Valley.
The Changing Climate and Landscape Survey can be found at www.friendsofthemadriver.org/climate. Your answers to the survey questions will help Friends shape their programs over 2022, 2023, and beyond.