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Metroparks Announces First Formal Climate Action Plan

January 23, 2024

Metroparks shares their new Climate Action Plan that highlights the concerns and feedback received from the community and the five key goal areas they will focus efforts on over the next five years.

In recent years, Michiganders have experienced climate events unlike ever before. Memorable examples include experiencing flooding and heavy rain events, where 3-5 inches fall across the region in less than 24 hours. In August 2023, more rain fell in the metro Detroit area in one day than what is normally seen throughout the entire month. This concentrated rainfall causes sewer overflows and backups into household basements, and water run-off into streets and parking lots. Shifts in winter weather are also causing unexpected changes and damage. In February 2023, a major ice storm in Southeast Michigan caused infrastructure damage and power outages across the region, while high winds and ice interrupted the winter holiday in 2022. We are experiencing forest fires in the state and also combatting bad air quality concerns from major fires happening across Canada. July 2023 was the hottest July on record. These types of events have become increasingly common across our region.

“While the Huron-Clinton Metroparks does not have all the answers to the challenges posed by climate change in Southeastern Michigan and beyond, we are dedicated to taking every possible action to mitigate its impact on our region.” Says Metroparks Director, Amy McMillan “That is why we are launching our very first formal Climate Action Plan. This plan leverages community members’ and expert consultant’s feedback to set initial goals to help us address some of the concerns and impacts of climate change while protecting our regional natural resources and local communities for years to come.”

More than 80 years ago, a visionary group of individuals imagined a connected network of parks that would offer residents of Wayne, Washtenaw, Oakland, Macomb, and Livingston counties the opportunity to engage with nature through activities such as swimming, hiking, biking, paddling, boating, and learning about the environment. Today, these parks, known as the Huron-Clinton Metroparks, have conserved nearly 25,000 acres of natural areas, educated countless children and families about the environment, improved air quality, managed stormwater, fought against invasive species, and protected endangered plants and animals in the region. In many ways, the Metroparks can be seen as the original Climate Action Plan for Southeastern Michigan.

As weather events in our corner of the region become more extreme, air and water quality become increasingly worrisome, and the residents of our region become interested in actively combatting the impact of climate change on our daily lives, it’s time for the Metroparks to act with intention and focus. To lead where they are best positioned to lead and to partner with public and private organizations that are already doing impressive work in this arena. This announcement comes just weeks after EGLE released the 2023 Michigan State of the Great Lakes Report and the state released the Annual MI Healthy Climate Plan Report that both focus on the importance of protecting and improving water and climate.

The Metroparks first formal Climate Action Plan is centered on addressing the needs of the region, both within park boundaries and in the communities they serve. To ensure that goals align with the concerns and interests of our region, input was actively sought from residents and partners who shared their concerns, needs, and ideas. Some of those main concerns were:

  • concerns of how to plan for the weather uncertainty being experienced
  • concerns for the health of themselves and loved ones
  • concerns about being unable to enjoy beloved activities regularly such as hiking, cross country skiing, or swimming due to seasonal changes

Over the next five years, the Metroparks will concentrate on five key goals that reflect the region’s priorities and leverage organizational strengths. Within the plan, each goal also has a list of identified objectives that will be accomplished towards that goal:

  • Goal 1. Education and Engagement: Increase and embed climate action education across all areas of the Metroparks through sharing of knowledge, engaging with others, collaborating with partners, and forming connections with stakeholders, to make real world difference across the Metroparks and throughout our region.
  • Goal 2. Preservation and Conservation of Natural Resources: Protect and enhance natural resources to ensure longevity of important ecosystems in a changing climate, to preserve these resources for the benefit of future generations.
  • Goal 3. Water Quality: Enhance built and natural stormwater infrastructure in preparation for increasingly intense storms and support the protection of water quality.
  • Goal 4. Transportation: Reduce carbon emissions associated with transportation vehicle miles traveled and provide equitable transportation options to and within the Metroparks to help mitigate the impacts of climate change.
  • Goal 5. Waste Management, Recycling, and Composting: Decrease the amount of waste going to landfills by increasing efforts internally and with the public to refuse, reduce, reuse, repurpose, and recycle materials.

The Metroparks have shared their full Climate Action Plan on their website and committed to providing regular progress reports on that page to keep the public informed about progress towards goals and objectives. They have also started an educational blog series, also shared on their webpage, to support the first goal in the plan and are inviting the community to join their efforts by reading, staying informed and taking personal actions towards improving our environment and our climate.

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