Flagstaff City Council welcomed the Coconino County Board of Supervisors to discuss the progress of the community-led outreach for the 2020 census. In the Monday night meeting, the Museum Fire and flooding mitigation efforts were also discussed.
The meeting began with a presentation from Sara Dechter, the city's comprehensive planning manager, and Kim Musselman, the board's director of special initiatives. They presented an update on the 2020 census efforts.
Both Dechter and Musselman explained, since the summer, the Flagstaff and Coconino County Community Census Team have been raising awareness of the upcoming census operations through community events and census recruiting.
"The census matters because it determines our representation in Congress, and it will ultimately determine redistricting in the state," Musselman said. "In addition, the funding is huge, as it leads to having good quality roads, schools, access to housing, food programs and other special programs."
County Board of Supervisors' Chair Lena Fowler voiced support of the 2020 census because it relates to the importance for the Navajo Nation to be a part of the census counting.
"It's very important that every citizen is counted because an accurate count depends on federal dollars that come to our region," Fowler said. "The Navajo Nation also does redistricting for its elected officials through the official results of the census count."
The next meeting update from Musselman and Dechter on the 2020 census has been scheduled for January 2020 to discuss assistance completing the census throughout Coconino County.
Following the presentation on the 2020 census, the council discussed the Museum Fire incident and a flood mitigation update.
When the Museum Fire started June 23 in the Dry Lake Hills area, there has been increased concern by city officials and residents on the wildfire and subsequent flooding mitigation efforts.
Flagstaff Watershed Protection Project (FWPP) manager Jake Dahlin discussed the city's rehabilitation efforts with the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) system to help protect public safety and prevent further damage.
"The overview of BAER is a rapid response system that goes in, looks at the infrastructure and tries to figure out how to protect the infrastructure and prevent any further degradation from storms," Dahlin said. "Under the implementation, there were three main phases – trail stabilization, area mulching and road stabilization."
Dahlin said the process of trail stabilization and area mulching were finished in the last three weeks, but road stabilization may take longer due to the upcoming winter months. The first bulk of the work for road stabilization should start in the first week of April 2020.
Lucinda Andreani, Coconino County Flood Control District administrator, described that past wildfires, such as the Schultz Fire in 2010, provided the flood control district with experience, thus allowing an improved response time to the Museum Fire flood.
"The previous fires and flooding that we have experienced in the past has allowed us, since the day of ignition, to be in contact with our flood risk assessment team in the state," Andreani said. "Within 48 hours of ignition, we had an updated flooding analysis with good understanding about the potential impacts for the benefit of the public."
Coconino County engineer Christopher Tressler said the Museum Fire happened near the Spruce Avenue watershed. Roughly 5% of the watershed was burned, along with 1,961 acres. This land features steep slopes, which increased potential flood risks in the area.
Tressler was joined by the city's capital improvement engineer Bret Petersen who provided insight into the flood mitigation efforts around city limits, which protect about 400 homes and businesses.
"Before flooding mitigation efforts could occur, assessments of high-risk properties by county, city staff and private engineers [are needed] to determine mitigation strategies," Petersen said. "Flood mitigation measures included the placement of sandbags, concrete barriers and the clearing of water channels from vegetation and debris."
Toward the end of the meeting, the Flagstaff Flood Control District and the city recommended keeping flood mitigation in place throughout the 2020 monsoon season. These include sandbags that have been placed throughout the city, along with concrete barriers.
Before the meeting ended, the council and the board recognized the Arizona Conservation Corps, the Arizona Conservation Experience, the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, the all-woman inmate Perryville prison fire crew and the Winslow prison inmate fire crew for their efforts to help suppress the Museum Fire.