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How should Reno prepare for climate change?

Image of a figure walking along the Truckee River with colorful fall leaves on the trees.
Alana Reid via #RenoLens

In anticipation of Thursday’s focus group on Climate Change: Mitigation and Resiliency, we have a guest post from Peter Gower, an environmental planner, Reno Planning Commissioner and Chair of the Climate Action Initiative:

For the ReImagine Reno’s September 29th focus group, the theme will be climate change. As the city updates its master plan, we would like to hear how you think the city should plan locally for such a global issue. How can the city reduce its greenhouse gas emissions? What can the city do to be more resilient as the climate changes? This summer’s low water levels in the Truckee River and hazy skies from massive wildfires in California could become the norm under a warmer climate. Are we prepared? The City Council recently committed to becoming a member of the Compact of Mayors, the first city in Nevada. This commitment is the first step in developing a comprehensive plan to mitigate and adapt to climate change. The City Council has demonstrated its commitment to re-imagine a climate-friendly, resilient Reno. Your input will help define what actions the city will take to fulfill its commitment. We look forward to seeing you on September 29th!

We have already received lots of concerns and great ideas around climate change and sustainability through the ReImagine Reno online survey – check out a sample of comments below! Also, please take the survey and RSVP to attend the Climate Change focus group and join the conversation.

“Encourage sustainability. Limited water resources and projected growth create a conundrum that needs to be solved now. Not once it’s too late.” – Submitted 8/3

“I anticipate that Reno will be unlivable in 20 years, and hope to be somewhere else.” – Submitted 8/4

“We would love to see more local farms that keep supporting local communities and restaurants while creating opportunities for agro-tourism and education.” – Submitted 8/13

“The fact that we are not tapping into our tremendous wind resources for sustainable energy is disturbing.” – Submitted 8/16

“Community Recycling program similar to Seattle WA including community composting and biodegradable garbage bags.” – Submitted 7/31

“Instituting a city & county ordinance banning the use of plastic shopping bags is imperative, if Reno is going to live up to it’s desire to be an eco-conscious, livable community.  Many other cities have accomplished this goal successfully, by phasing it in and working with the area retail establishments.” – Submitted 8/18

“The natural resources, namely water, will continue to be a concern and should always be considered when new developments are planned.  I would like to see no new strip malls built until the current ones are full.” – Submitted 8/18

“Focus on being the model of how to live more efficiently and happiness: Energy/water efficiency, vegetarian, compassion and control of animal populations, education.” – Submitted 8/17

“Push for innovative, solar efficient, well-insulated, affordable, multi-use structural development.” – Submitted 8/12

“Reno should plan for infill and more compact living.  All future design and planning should consider how to reduce water usage.  Reno should plan for an EV economy, with plentiful charging stations.  Reno should plan for all neighborhoods to be serviced by mass transit.” – Submitted 8/4

“I would like to see a thriving urban gardening and food production (including things like eggs, cottage foods, bee keeping, incubator kitchens, composting facilities, etc.) culture supported by local governments, citizens, businesses.  It is important that our area become more food self sufficient and that citizens are empowered and educated about health and eating well.  We need to also learn new ways to make healthy food accessible to everyone…rich and poor.” – Submitted 8/3

“Green waste is a must to help capture carbon in the soil and reduce water needs in the landscape.” – Submitted 7/29




Take advantage of our wind and solar power. Be strict on unnecessary water usage, such as lawns, in times of drought. Begin to implement electric car charging spots in downtown and around Reno. The charging stations need to be powered by either solar or wind power. Also, (this wont make ranchers happy) to reduce the #1 contributor to greenhouse gasses, start social awareness campaigns aimed informing people of the effects cattle and other farm animals have on the environment. Inform people that reducing meat consumption will go a long way. Protein can be found in many foods other than meats. Another thing, give tax breaks to people who ride bikes or extremely efficient vehicles.

Make sure NRS allows for treated waste water to be used for food crop irrigation (State law has prevented in the past). Help with securing funding for large and small scale community gardens. Encourage the South Meadows HOAs to use some of their community/shared spaces for food gardens or even food forests using treated/recycled water. Provide technical assistance to communities just started to grow and share their own food.

We should redistribute wealth and regulate businesses out of existence. Oh wait, that’s what the global warming people say we should do. It accomplishes nothing.

I would support anything the city/county wants to do, which preserves our water supply. High order bit people. That is the one thing we truly have to worry about in the Reno area.

I won’t be able to make it to the meeting on Thursday unfortunately, but can we please bring up some ideas about water conservation in the area? Like encouraging zero-scape both in public areas as well as private, specifically targeting the biggest water users like RGJ.

Use common sense… we live in a desert, have always lived in a desert. Have been here only 30 years and have listened to complaints of flooding, complaints of drought, dried up lakes, the same lakes over flowing. Man man global warming or man made climate change is a fairytale. Getting rid of animals to reduce CO2 is rediculous, infact CO2 as a pollutant is beyond rediculous.

More tree and do hidroponik farm in every building roof

We have to stop viewing ourselves as separate from the ecosystem that we are part of. Reno/Tahoe exists not just as a marketing brand, but as a single environment tied together by proximity, water, and environmental conditions. Lake Tahoe is a unique environment that we’re dedicating huge sums of money to preserve. Lake Tahoe is also a canary in a coal mine regarding global climate change. The health of the lake reflects the health of the area. Reno/Tahoe has an opportunity to build a new identity around the extraordinary efforts that are becoming ever more necessary to protect the lake. State of the art conservation and sustainability efforts along with high tech leaders in renewable energy such as Tesla should plant the seeds for a new local economy that can become a model for other communities to follow. In other words, why not monetize our efforts to save ourselves? We can become a model of sustainable practice. We have to save Tahoe (the jewel of the Sierra), learn to live in the high desert with limited water and increase our ability to use readily available solar, wind and geothermal energy sources, so why not step-up and commit? Reno should become the greenest city in the country. Realistically, we have few other choices. We cannot sustain predicted growth unless we operate under different parameters. Our tourism based economy can evolve to geotourism and promote stewardship. Reno/Tahoe can become a leader on the world stage for how we set about solving our climate change issues. Think of bringing together DRI, UNR, TMCC, Tesla, Sierra resorts, TRPA, EDAWN, RTC, Casinos etc in a way that combines to promote tourism that does no harm. Low carbon transportation options should include innovative ways to get around and over Lake Tahoe besides the auto centric polluting means we encourage now. The blueprint for how to become more sustainable is pretty simple and straight forward. Communities around the world are practicing this regularly. Reno/Tahoe’s legacy economic drivers are tired and old world. We can’t continue to count on gaming, drinking and carbon intensive activities like Hot August Nights and Street Vibrations to take us to the next level as a vibrant community. Let’s augment and eventually replace these limited experiences with deeper, richer tourist experiences that emphasize our state-of-the-art commitment to different models of enjoying a place. Burning Man is a prime example of an arts/technology/and cultural phenomenon that revolutionized how people think about the world around them. Reno/Tahoe needs the courage to move beyond taking a few token steps towards sustainability (e.g. changing the light bulbs in the Reno Arch) and make a monumental commitment to becoming the epicenter of sustainability. Big vision, but we have so many of the pieces already here that we just have to put it together in the right order. Reno/Tahoe needs to understand that individual businesses driving the bus towards their own profit, is working against the community as a whole. To become a great place, we have to start looking at other communities that are thriving because they have an identity that supports green practices, neighborhood commerce, locally sourced food, citizen involvement, an appealing aesthetic, and encouraging economic, cultural, historical and environmental balance.

When I initially commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox annd now each time a comment is
added I get four emails with the same comment. Is there any way you can remove perople from that service?
Many thanks!

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