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State hosts its first ever conference on changing climate

JEKYLL ISLAND — The Georgia Department of Natural Resources hosted the state’s first Climate Conference here early last month, drawing 217 participants from universities, state agencies, local governments, federal agencies, nonprofits and the private sector.

The conference, titled “Prepare, Respond and Adapt: Is Georgia Climate Ready?” featured 18 sessions and 72 presentations on diverse topics connected to the state’s changing environmental conditions. The event highlighted existing efforts, facilitated the exchange of information and promoted collaboration on current and future climate-related projects in Georgia.

“Our goal was to hear about the great projects that are already ongoing, which will ultimately give us an idea where the gaps and needs are,” said Jennifer Kline, coastal hazards specialist for GA-DNR’s Coastal Management Program and chair of the conference’s planning team.
The two-day meeting touched on extensive climate-related challenges for public health, agriculture, coastal ecosystems, energy resources, law and policy, as well as provided practical instruction on communication strategies, mapping resources, online tools and research available to help alleviate potential impacts. The Weather Channel’s Carl Parker presented the keynote address, and Col. Townley Hedrick, garrison commander at

Fort Stewart, provided closing remarks.
GA-DNR has already played a role in facilitating statewide planning for disaster recovery, which was road tested during Hurricane Matthew as storm surge, heavy rainfall and high winds affected the coastal region. The conference demonstrated the agency’s ability to foster coordination and partnership as Georgia prepares for future threats.

“You can’t tackle this issue from one agency, one local government or one nonprofit. It is going to take a village,” said Kline. “There was an amazing amount of intellectual horsepower at the conference that we can lean on going forward.”

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