How Gresham Can Make An Impact on Climate Change

October 23, 2020
October 23, 2020 teameddymorales

Like me, you probably watched in dismay this year as wildfires burned more than a million acres in Oregon and filled Gresham with hazardous smoke.

Climate change is here, but with your help our city can be at the forefront of mitigation efforts. There is a lot we can do right here in Gresham to have an impact on climate change. When we keep climate justice in mind as we make plans and design programs, we lead the way for our communities and our planet. 

I’ll make sure Gresham does everything we can to protect our city: our air, our trees, and our water. Most importantly, our mitigation efforts must center the voices of underrepresented communities, who will bear the brunt of climate change, and young people, who will inherit our changing earth.

About My Focus on Climate Change

I’ve already been focused on environmental impact as a City Councilor. I’ve served as the City Council liaison for urban forestry, on the Johnson Creek Watershed Council, and on the board for the Regional Water Consortium. In these positions, we advocated for our people, and our environment.

  • Working to increase the tree canopy in Gresham.
  • Trees keep Gresham shady and cool as temperatures rise, preventing heat islands that disproportionately hurt poor communities. We are working to set a tree canopy goal, pushing for more street trees, hiring an on-call arborist for our community to access, and ensuring policies that protect our trees.
  • Brought Coho salmon back to our watershed. Our habitat restoration work in our local watershed has included uncovering covered or obstructed watersheds. This work has also included installing storm water gardens to naturally clean runoff water and working with Mt. Hood Community College to make sure their parking lots do not stop rainwater from making it into our rivers. This has the added benefit of mitigating wildfire damage.
  • Making investments in green energy such as solar and wind power for Gresham. We have supported innovations in 100% solar powered affordable housing developments. Looking into investments in wind power. Additionally, exploring work with natural gas on renewable energy. These investments are better for the environment, and it means the people who live in Gresham won’t have to pay utility bills or may see savings on their bills.

Gresham Needs a Community Climate Action Committee

I will create and lead a Community Climate Action Committee. This group will ensure the voices of young people and communities most impacted are heard and centered in policy-making, creating an action plan for Gresham. 

As a leader on this committee, I will advocate for policies that mitigate the effects of climate change in Gresham, promote long term planning around our environment, and fight for climate justice. 

Here are a few action items I intend to prioritize:

  • Continue to invest in solar and wind power in Gresham. We can lower our energy bills and mitigate climate change at the same time. These are proven technologies with a great return on investment for the city.
  • Expand efforts to create parks, preserve nature, and plant trees. The more green space we have in Gresham, the shadier and cooler it will be. I am leading the effort to create a parks and recreation district for our city.
  • Expand bike lanes and create dedicated bus lanes. We want every community in Gresham to have access to environmentally friendly transportation.
  • Lead tough conversations about the future of water in Gresham. We need to decide if we will continue paying Portland for access to Bull Run Reservoir water, or if we will invest in wells so that Gresham can create a locally-owned groundwater source. There is no correct or easy answer here, but it’s long past time we started the conversation.