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Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes to attend Monroe County Climate Change meeting
Lt Gov at VFC
Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes discusses the growth and future of the Viroqua Food Co-op with General Manager Jan Rasikas. Mandela visited the Co-op following Gov-ernor Evers ‘State of the State’ address where he put a priority on promoting rural prosperity.

SPARTA - At their October 2019 meeting, the Monroe County Board of Supervisors voted 15-0 to form a Climate Change Task Force. Since then, at the direction of Governor Tony Evers, the State of Wisconsin has also formed a task force. The task force is being led by Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes.

Both fledgling efforts will meet in Sparta on Wednesday, Feb. 12, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., when the Lieutenant Governor will speak at the meeting of the Monroe County Climate Change Task Force. Robert Nigh of Vernon County, who sits on the board of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau, will also participate.

“The Lieutenant Governor will attend our task force’s meeting to explore how the counties can connect with the state to share information,” County Conservationist Bob Micheel said. “Because Monroe County has taken the step of forming our own task force, we can be a partner to the statewide task force in setting up those lines of communication.”

Monroe Task Force

The Monroe County Climate Change Task Force was chartered with ten goals:

1. Implement monitoring devices (weather stations) and warning systems in real time by coordinating with emergency management and the national weather service. (warning signage/Nixel/messaging)

2. Floodplain Management – Remove structures/roads/crossings within floodway that have a history of being flooded & or under immediate threat. Define standards for building within the floodplain.

3. Complete flood impact study to identify the 100-year floodway boundary based on recent rainfall data and current land use. Focus on areas with development pressure & or chronic flooding issues.

4. Zone to promote sustainable land use decisions. Improve existing enforcement of shore land zoning ordinance.

5. Enforcement of land use decisions.

6. Flood Mitigation Projects – (watershed management) implement/develop water infiltration, retention practices that address rainfall and runoff.

7. Promote sustainable land use policies or practices that influence state and federal legislation.

8. Climate Change Mitigation:

• ID contributions/sources

• Establish standards for sustainable living

• Implement mitigation programs (ex. Tree planting, mass transit, Runoff Curve Number (RCN) & Temperature balancing, Agriculture – Carbon Sequestering practices, etc.

• Individual Empowerment

9. Provide information & education

10. Seek funding sources to implement Task Force recommendations/goals.

To date, most of the focus of task force meetings has focused on the first goal, which is to improve weather monitoring and the warnings that go out to stakeholders in critical watersheds such as Coon Creek, Little LaCrosse River, and the Kickapoo River.

At their meeting in December, the task force brought in Nathan Young from the Iowa Flood Center. Young discussed Iowa’s approach to updating the state’s floodplain maps, measuring rain events, providing warnings to threatened watersheds, and creation of an online tool so watershed residents can help themselves in determining threats to their safety and property in flooding situations.

Pam Porter, DNR Policy Advisor in the Governor’s office and member of the state’s newly formed Climate Change Task Force attended the meeting.

Representatives from U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin, U.S. Representative Ron Kind, and State Senator Jennifer Shilling’s office, also attended the meeting. State Representative Loren Oldenburg attended in person, as did representatives from the U.S. Geological Survey, USDA-NRCS, National Weather Service - LaCrosse, and the Wisconsin DNR. 

In addition to Monroe County, Climate Change Task Forces have been enacted by county boards in Eau Claire, Dane and Milwaukee counties.

Discussions are currently in progress among county conservation officials in the Kickapoo and Coon Creek watersheds about how they can collaborate around issues of flooding and public safety.