The 100-page report details the state of environmental issues in Orange County, evaluates the progress on previous problems and provides measures that every resident can take to help improve the state of living in Orange County.
“It is really important to share with the residents,” said Loren Hintz, vice-chairman of the Orange County Commission for the Environment and a retired Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools teacher.
Barry Jacobs, chairman of the Orange County Board of Commissioners, will deliver closing remarks at the summit.
“We need a reinvigoration of our vision and commitment to our environmental standards and sustainability,” Jacobs said. “All of the environmental issues are connected.”
Jacobs and Hintz said some of the issues cited in the report include protecting local plants from invasive plant species, maintaining natural area conservation, promoting energy efficient buildings and educating residents about fracking.
The summit will also feature keynote speaker Norman Christensen, a professor emeritus at Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, who will discuss environmental sustainability.
Other speakers include Don Francisco, a retired professor of environmental science at UNC, and Johnny Randall, the director of conservation programs at the North Carolina Botanical Garden.
Rich Shaw, land conservation manager for the Orange County Department of Environment, Agriculture, Parks and Recreation, said one of the most important aspects of the report is that it tells citizens individual measures they can take to help sustain the environment in Orange County.
“Each section lists what citizens can do to improve Orange County’s environment,” Shaw said.
The report encourages Orange County residents to rely less on cars, compost and recycle and invest in alternative energy.
Divided into air, land and water categories, the report also serves as a resource that lists all of the environmental data for Orange County’s natural resources in one place — data that took 18 months to gather, Shaw said. He said the data is more meaningful and valuable because it has been five years since the last report.
Shaw said the report will be available to the public online and at some libraries after the summit.
The 2014 summit is the latest of several steps recently taken by the Board of Commissioners to help combat environmental issues in Orange County, Jacobs said.
“The environment is part of why I got on the planning board in 1985, and a major reason I ran for commissioner,” he said. “We have long-range plans and a long-range commitment to the environment.”
Jacobs said Orange County was the first county to have an ordinance for builders to separate out reusable materials , and has had the highest rate of solid waste reduction per capita in North Carolina since the 1990s.
“We do a lot of things to stay on top of as many environmental concerns as we can,” he said.