MVC provides climate resilience update

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The Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) climate resilience committee (CRC) provided an update to the community about its current initiatives during a Zoom presentation hosted by the Chamber of Commerce. The meeting was led by CRC chair and climate change coordinator Liz Durkee.

According to the meeting minutes, Durkee said ACE MV is focusing on providing the new skills and technical acumen needed for blue economy jobs and green-collar employment that the Island is hoping to further develop.

In assessing new job skills, Durkee said, it’s important to allow existing jobs to evolve through the adoption of new practices and expertise, as opposed to a change in title and description.

In workforce development, Durkee said 16- to 26 year-olds are the most impressionable ages. “Through matching employer demand and skill training, we can better keep this segment here instead of losing talent,” Durkee said. “The climate bill being debated within the state legislature includes notable funding for job training, should it be signed.” She added that in building the skills needed to become an increasingly resilient community, there is an opportunity to create jobs that boost our year-round workforce and economy.

ACE MV and the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School are also working to prepare the youth workforce with opportunities that will allow graduates and other young adult Islanders to remain here, with economic independence. 

This importance is further compounded by prohibitive costs of attending a four-year college, Durkee said.

An economic study underwritten with Community Preservation Act funds will better determine the value of ecosystem services in Oak Bluffs, including recreation, fishing, shellfishing, the beaches, painters using scenic terrain and viewshed, festivals, and greenways, with other environmental variables affecting the economy.

Durkee also spoke on the importance of shoreline preservation, and the dangers that sea level rise and more frequent and serious weather events pose to our Island community.

Additionally, the ecological health of our local water bodies will continue to be a critical objective for the MVC.

“A strong testing program for bacteria, along with remediation to improve flushing and dredging, must be pursued,” Durkee said. She added that local pond associations are a strong force on the Island, and they should be included in the broader climate change discourse.