Safeguarding Idaho’s Economy in a Changing Climate summit held at Henrys’ Fork Foundation Community Campus

Earlier in November, the Henry’s Fork Watershed Council hosted a satellite location of Safeguarding Idaho’s Economy in a Changing Climate, a two-day a summit held November 16th and 17th. Invited speakers represented a broad sample of private businesses, public agencies, tribes, and NGOs in Idaho from Simplot and HP to the EPA and Idaho Dept. of Lands to Trout Unlimited. See the complete list of speakers here.

Speakers gathered in Boise and their presentations were live-streamed to three organized satellite locations in Pocatello (Idaho State University), Moscow (University of Idaho), and Ashton (Henry’s Fork Foundation). Absorbing the broad perspectives provided by the presenters in Boise was only half of what the summit offered! The last 2-3 hours of each day were devoted to breakout sessions where summit participants at all four locations focused on some aspect of Idaho’s economy that has been and will likely continue to be affected by climate change. The breakout sessions utilized a concept called Human Centered Design to create and prototype solutions to safeguard Idaho’s economy in a changing climate. Human Centered Design is a highly structured process that allows a diverse group of people to incrementally work toward designing solutions toward a common goal once a thorough understanding of each unique perspective has been reached.

The breakout session in Ashton focused on the broad question: How might Idaho’s outdoor recreation, agricultural, and natural resource industries adjust to changes in snow and water timing, quantity, and quality? Participants shared personal narratives about how climate change has impacted their business or organization, chose common themes among the narratives, identified areas of opportunity, and finally brainstormed solutions.

We identified three areas of opportunity that need to be addressed to safeguard Idaho’s recreational, agricultural, and natural resource industries:

1. How might we foster personal connections in the broader pubic to land and water? The solution the group prototyped was putting a greenhouse on the grounds of every public school in Idaho.

2. How might we help agriculture adapt to a changing climate? The solution the group prototyped was developing markets and infrastructure for alternative crops that may fare better (picture of prototype schematic below).

3. How might we incentive politicians to plan for the distant future? The solution the group prototyped was to monetize environmental conditions via ecosystem services and portfolio development at the state level.