Resilience in Durango, CO


The climate of Southwest Colorado is changing. Average temperatures have already risen by 2F since 1977 and projections are for an additional 1.5 to 3.5F by 2050.

With higher temperatures come increased evaporation, more frequent heavy rainfall events, a higher proportion of precipitation falling as rain, earlier spring melt and generally drier conditions on the ground. Warmer temperatures and prolonged droughts are also predicted to open-up new habitats for insects such as the forest decimating Bark Beetle. Together, these changes will lead to more frequent wildfires similar to the Lightner Creek fire which blazed for a week in 2017 and prompted evacuations just west of City Limits. In addition to immediate public safety concerns; increased wildfire, drought, and declining up-stream forest health have implications for water quality and availability in Durango.

The City of Durango has a long history of action on sustainability. However, the city’s climate action has focused predominantly on mitigation. In light of regional climate projections, it is clear that the City of Durango must now take action to ensure that core City and eco-system services can be maintained in an uncertain future climate.

Given Durango’s dependence on regional resources such as the Animas River Basin and San Juan National Forest, a truly meaningful Community-wide Adaptation Plan will require broad regional support and collaboration. This funding and technical assistance from NLC will enable the City of Durango to convene a series of local and regional engagement events during 2018. Facilitated workshops will bring public and private local, regional and national stakeholders together to build a shared understanding of resilience, identify potential vulnerabilities and chart a course to collaborative adaptation.