Actions to increase climate change resiliency focus of joint Northfield, Warwick listening session

Staff Writer
Published: 5/25/2021 4:49:57 PM

The towns of Northfield and Warwick, along with the Franklin Regional Council of Governments (FRCOG), are holding a virtual public listening session on Thursday from 6 to 7 p.m. to review key findings and priority actions that have come out of more than a year of stakeholder outreach and virtual workshops pertaining to increasing their climate change resiliency.

Both towns are seeking to become designated as Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) communities through the state Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, according to a press release from Alyssa Larose, senior land use and natural resources planner with FRCOG. Four workshops were held virtually in February and March to discuss impacts of climate change, identify the towns’ top hazards of concern, review current strengths and vulnerabilities, and brainstorm actions to increase resiliency in three categories: infrastructure, society and the environment.

Speaking via email, Larose shared a few key findings from the previous workshops. Warwick found one of its greatest vulnerabilities is stronger storms that take down trees, knock out power, block roads and damage communication infrastructure. Northfield found it is vulnerable to heavier precipitation events, including flooding and erosion along steep roads, inflow and infiltration into the sewer system, and impacts to public and private drinking water

One of Warwick’s greatest strengths is its vast amounts of undeveloped forests and wetlands that serve to slow, infiltrate and store precipitation, mitigate extreme heat, sequester and store carbon, and support biodiversity. Northfield’s strengths include strong community partnerships and organizations, such as the Senior Center, The Moody Center, local businesses and regional EMS, which have been critical in meeting the needs of residents during emergencies.

“At the listening session we will present some top actions that came out of the process for addressing vulnerabilities and building upon strengths,” Larose said.

By becoming a designated MVP community, both towns will be eligible to apply for MVP Action Grants to pursue identified action items. The process will also result in an updated Hazard Mitigation Plan for each town, according to Larose. Once the plan is approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA), both towns will also be able to apply for hazard mitigation funding from those agencies.

An agenda and link to access Thursday’s listening session can be found at bit.ly/3fL4fMD.

Zack DeLuca can be reached at zdeluca@recorder.com or 413-930-4579.


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