Secretary Crowfoot talks drought, wildfires, advancing equity, and leadership in Cal Cities’ first Speaker Series webinar

Jun 2, 2021

City leaders from throughout the state joined the League of California Cities for the first installment of the new Cal Cities Speaker Series, which featured an informative drought and wildfire update from California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) Secretary Wade Crowfoot.

Cal Cities President and El Centro Mayor Cheryl Viegas Walker kicked off the webinar with a welcome to attendees and introduction of the new Speaker Series, which she described as “another value-added benefit of being a member of the League of California Cities.”

Secretary Crowfoot kicked off an engaging, timely drought and wildfire briefing, by covering early drought impacts and lessons learned from California’s last drought, as well as the state’s comprehensive response and resilience approach to the upcoming wildfire season.

The Secretary explained that California has the least dependable and most varied yearly precipitation levels in the country. Due to a very dry 2020 and an unseasonably warm spring, the state has 0% of its snowpack left, a below average reservoir storage, and faces a particularly challenging wildfire season.

During a dynamic question and answer period led by Cal Cities Executive Director Carolyn Coleman, Secretary Crowfoot recognized that the environmental challenges of drought and wildfire differ across the state and that regionally tailored solutions are key to successful preparedness and resilience. “If we are going to build resilience, it has to be by empowering regional and local leaders to understand the threats that they face and help prioritize where we invest,” said Secretary Crowfoot.

Executive Director Coleman also asked Secretary Crowfoot about his blog post from June 2020, Moving Forward Toward Justice and Equity, where he acknowledged that his agency has a role to play to help advance equity, and that CNRA is creating more opportunities for Californians to benefit from the natural, cultural, and historic richness of our state. Secretary Crowfoot recognized that the agency has a lot of distance to travel towards equity and is doing so by listening and learning from disproportionally impacted communities, clearly committing to eradicating racism and inequity, and taking action.

Finally, Executive Director Coleman and Secretary Crowfoot discussed effective leadership and the importance of maintaining a work-life balance. The Secretary highlighted the importance of recognizing how difficult the past year has been, both personally and professionally, for many people, and voicing that with his team. “As leaders, where we can identify our own vulnerabilities and challenges, we give space for other folks to acknowledge their own. Government’s most important resources is its people… and we need to maintain these folks.”

The Cal Cities Speakers Series will continue to feature high-profile individuals with timely and relevant content for city officials. Stay tuned for more information about our exciting lineup of future speakers.