Climate Profile: Anna Klovstad
Editor’s note: Climate Profile is a feature brought to you by the North Tahoe chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, which explores the stories of local citizens and how climate change has affected their lives.
I was delighted to reconnect with my dynamic friend Anna Klovstad to interview her for the Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s October Climate Profile. My challenge was to condense our very rich conversation to a single article.
“I’m incredibly honored and flattered to be selected for CCL’s Climate Profile,” Anna said. How humble she is, I thought, a woman as accomplished as she.
Anna earned her degree in architecture from California State Polytechnic University. She is a construction manager for the Tahoe City Public Utility District and previously for Tahoe Truckee Unified School District. She has also managed the State and Federal award-winning TTUSD sustainability program. Anna joined Truckee Town Council in 2018, served as mayor in 2021, and is running for reelection to town council https://anna4truckee.com/. Another feather of many in her cap: Anna founded the Climate Transformation Alliance. Their Vision: The Truckee North Lake Tahoe region will be net carbon neutral by 2045 through a combination of GHG emissions reduction in the built environment and sinking or storing carbon in natural lands. She’s a champion of climate activism and the ideal candidate for CCL’s nascent climate profile series.
We chatted after Anna invited me to the Forest Fire Exhibit Tour at the Truckee-Donner Recreation and Park District. Anna has brought upwards of 150 people to the art and educational exhibit and co-creators Michael and Heather Llewellyn have ushered 40 tours to 350 civic/community leaders; the Sierra Watershed Education Partnerships ushered 700 local students.
After the tour, I posed to Anna, “And what is something you think everyone needs to know or understand better in regards to climate change?”
Her response, “We need to change our relationship with our forests, and perpetuate a new improved kinship. Humans have impacted the environment and forest health in all sorts of ways, from greenhouse gas emissions to over foresting and not allowing controlled burns. And the lack of watershed management has created ‘A Perfect Storm,’ forests are now a tinder box, perpetuating catastrophic fire and smoke…”
The timing of my writing this piece was ironic and tragic. I was looking out my window at an Armageddon like scene, thick smoke, poor visibility and an air quality index of 665, hazardous, due to the Mosquito Fire.
Anna has been on eight tours of the Forest Fire exhibit and knows its theme very well. She and the Llewllyns shared with me that forests are no longer a biodiverse ecology. We need to help forests regenerate. One solution is to reintroduce the indigenous practice of setting low intensity fires on the forest floor to reduce duff and renew useful plants, as was the practice of Washoe people in this region for at least 6,000 years. This practice created an open, fire-adapted forest of intensely rich species diversity. I was astounded to learn that only 160 years ago (not so long in an evolutionary timetable), our forests had five to twenty trees per acre. The Washoe burned different areas of the forest every two to seven years and catastrophic fires were extremely rare. Early settlers could drive their wagons in-between enormous, fire-tolerant trees. Our current forests hold 400-1,000 trees per acre. These relatively young trees that grow up in the wake of the old growth forest are shade tolerant species that live closely packed together; they compete for limited water sources and are fire-intolerant, contributing to what Anna called “a tinder box.” And sadly, we’re all experiencing the effects of the Mosquito Fire when I wrote this, the new norm.
The Forest Fire exhibit has left our park district after nine months. I am thrilled Anna invited me to tour it. Now her goals are to continue her work with forest health and fuel management through the Town Council. She also desires to do more sustainability projects on a regional scale and with more organizations in addition to the three founding members with whom she created the Climate Transformation Alliance: The Tahoe-Truckee Airport, the Truckee Donner PUD, and the Town of Truckee. Anna also informed me all of these organizations, along with the Truckee Fire Protection District, have joined forces to build a local biomass facility to serve our community.
Furthermore, what can we do as concerned citizens? Cheer on local agencies who implement forest restoration and contact the Tahoe National Forest’s Truckee Ranger District https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/tahoe/fire. Support their local restoration partners like the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation https://www.ttcf.net/ and the Truckee River Watershed Council. https://www.truckeeriverwc.org/ Lobby politicians for adjustments in air quality regulations to make exceptions for the smoke from low intensity fires necessary for forest health.
At the time of this piece, the co-creators of the Forest Fire Exhibit are looking for a new “home” in Sacramento. However, to learn more about this exhibit, visit https://www.forestandfire.org/.
Celeste Leon is an author, physical therapist, and the media coordinator of the North Lake Chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby https://citizensclimatelobby.org/. When she’s not hiking or biking in the trails of Tahoe, she enjoys good food and wine with friends and family.
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