Itasca County community members gathered May 14-16 in Grand Rapids for an in-depth three-day deliberative forum to study and discuss changes in the area’s climate and weather. Participants in the Dialogue developed a community-based response outlining concerns, opportunities, and actions to address challenges the community faces.
The Itasca Climate Dialogue was organized by the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy and the Jefferson Center. The Dialogue invited a randomly selected but demographically balanced group of 18 individuals from the county. Participants had access to resources and experts to produce their own independent recommendations that responded to Itasca County’s needs, priorities, values, and ambitions.
Speakers included Mark Seeley, University of Minnesota Extension Climatologist; Brian Palik, Research Ecologist; Tim Goeman, Department of Natural Resources; John Latimer, local phenologist; Megan Christianson, Visit Grand Rapids; Julie Kennedy, Grand Rapids City Engineer; and Michael Duval, Department of Natural Resources.
Grand Rapids High School students hosted a panel of 9 local experts in March to discuss the local impacts of climate change. After the panel, students identified their top climate concerns: impacts on wildlife habitat and migration patterns, new diseases that will impact the forests and local residents, and water quality in local lakes and rivers. Two students attended the community Dialogue to share their experiences.
This Rural Climate Dialogue was the second in a series of Dialogues happening around the state. The Dialogues are intended to spur rural leadership and build resiliency in the face of extreme weather conditions and a changing climate.
The event was held at the Timberlake Lodge (144 SE 17th Street, Grand Rapids, MN) from May 14-16, 2015.