People chased by extreme climate conditions are finding refuge in the Adirondack Park

By Chloe Bennett

Steph Larsen knew what she wanted in a community: A rural, friendly place where she could farm and raise her family. In 2014, Larsen and her husband Noah Weber bought land in Montana and started their farm. But their lives changed just three years later.

“The fire season in Montana was so bad that we couldn’t take our daughter, who had just turned 1, outside for any reason for six weeks,” said Larsen, 44.

The 2017 wildfires spread across 539,026 acres and cost a total of $380 million to suppress. Larsen, who was pregnant at the time, worried that the thick smoke would affect her baby and her unborn child. It was around then that she and Weber decided to move.

“As much as we loved Montana, as much as we loved the mountains and skiing and kayaking and all of the things that we were excited to do with our children, after that summer, we looked at each other and said, ‘what are we doing here?’” she said.

Larsen and Weber now live in Westport. So does their small herd of yak, which they transported from Montana. They raise and sell some of the large animals and collect their hair for fiber. Larsen said she recognizes the privilege of being able to move her family on their own terms.

This family isn’t alone in moving away from extreme weather in the U.S. Since 2008, about 10.5 million people have been displaced within the U.S. because of climate disasters, according to data from the Geneva, Switzerland-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre. The data only represents people who have been evacuated or sheltered, and doesn’t account for people moving on their own.

Read the full article in the Adirondack Explorer.