Placer wants wildfire carbon footprint counted

By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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Bracing for impacts of climate change through a state-mandated sustainability plan, Placer County supervisors want to ensure that wildfire smoke is factored into any calculations.

Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery said Tuesday during discussion by the Board of Supervisors on the sustainability plan effort that while predictions on wildfires are hard to predict from one season to the next, 40 percent of fine particulate matter in the air called black carbon emissions in California stem from wildfires.

“The question is how do we roll this into the conversation,” Montgomery said.

Supervisor Robert Weygandt cited the recent Star Fire, which burned 20,000 acres of wildland in Placer County, as an example of impact on emission levels that the state should consider, with a goal of removing dead or dying trees to reduce the potential for out-of-control “crown” fires.

Weygandt, who represents the Lincoln area, said that he would like to see accurate projections built into state and county plans that would allow for work to prevent fires through forest thinning and other proactive projects to lessen the carbon footprint.

During an informational session, planner Angel Green presented a report on the status of the sustainability plan project and some possible strategies to reduce vulnerability in the future. Tree-removal programs were a possibility to reduce tree mortality due to climate change. A step-up in air-conditioning unit programs was a suggested strategy to deal with increases in temperatures causing extreme heat in Placer County. Flooding issues could partly be addressed by more use of permeable pavement, Green reported.

Public transit expansion, more composting and recycling, and providing incentives for renewable energy are also being considered as the county moves toward adoption of a plan and identifying funding sources.