Climate Action Collaborative will guide countywide plan
Board volunteers must apply by Nov. 12
As international leaders gather for the United Nation’s Climate Change Conference in Scotland working toward global action measures, Routt County leaders concerned about climate change are soliciting assistance to take action in the Yampa Valley.
The five municipal councils in the county adopted the Routt County climate action plan in late August, and applications are open now through Nov. 12 for volunteer members to serve on the Routt County Climate Action Collaborative, which is charged with focusing and implementing steps outlined in the plan.
According to the city’s climate action plan information page, where the board application form is located, the Climate Action Collaborative was developed to provide a collaboration and implementation framework for the plan through regional decision making.
“Local government partners recognize the need and benefit to implement best practices to reduce GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions and draw down carbon levels in the atmosphere at the local and regional level,” the site notes.
Up to six members from across the community are needed to serve a three-year term on the collaborative board, joining one appointed representative from each of the governing municipalities from Steamboat Springs, Hayden, Yampa and Oak Creek and the Routt County Board of County Commissioners. Municipal appointees named so far including Commissioner Beth Melton and Hayden council member Ryan Banks.
“It’s great we are working in collaboration in our county to move forward in a structured way to address what is in the CAP,” said Winnie DelliQuadri, special projects and intergovernmental services manager for the city of Steamboat Springs.
DelliQuadri said both the city and county have committed $30,000 to fund administrative support for the collaborative in 2022, which is expected to start meeting in January. That support should come in the form of a contracted firm or individual.
Routt County Environmental Health Director Scott Cowman said the collaborative is the culmination of efforts started by the county several years ago to update the greenhouse gas emissions inventory, and he is glad to see the collaborative formation due to his sense of urgency for climate action measures.
The climate action plan was adopted unanimously across the five governing bodies, except for one “no” vote on the Oak Creek Town Board by Bernard “Bernie” Gagne, who expressed concerns about measures that might lead to future mandates.
Gagne said this week, he is an avid outdoorsman and not against climate action measures but noted, “We have to think through how any broad scale mandates will affect people, such as those living in aging homes.”
DelliQuadri said the collaborative was based on similar efforts in Eagle and Summit counties, as well as the structure of the Yampa Valley Housing Authority and the Northwest Colorado Development Council, an umbrella group that helps to coordinate and pursue economic development in the region.
DelliQuadri said city leadership continues to work on climate action measures related to solar installations, planting trees to help cool the temperature in the Yampa River, regional transportation ideas and an electric vehicle readiness plan.
As part of that plan, the city is completing installation of the latest EV charging station at the rodeo arena parking lot. The city hosted a series of three EV educational workshops this fall with those recordings posted online at SteamboatSprings.net/ev. The city and partners hosted a public EV Ride and Drive on Oct. 23, where about 65 people test drove a variety of plug-in vehicles, including a Ford Mustang Mach-E from the Front Range, DelliQuadri said.
“We are moving forward individually on these things, and the collaborative will add that ability to discuss and put together bigger projects,” DelliQuadri said.
The manager also coordinates grant funding for 12 solar installations across the Yampa Valley for a $4.8 million, more than 2.1-megawatt regional project to increase on-site energy generation, reduce utility costs and improve resiliency of sites. The project is supported by a $2.1 million Colorado Department of Local Affairs grant, and partners contributed enough funds so the cost of each installation will pay back within 11 years, DelliQuadri said.
Construction Project Engineer Alexa Vinci from vendor McKinstry said the regional solar project is now 80% complete, and four sites should be operational within two weeks, including at Oak Creek Town Hall, the fire department in Yampa, Moffat County High School and the Hayden Police Department building.
The eight other solar installs should be complete by late November or early December, Vinci said, including Yampa Valley Regional Airport, the Hayden Center, Steamboat Springs Transit operations center, public safety center in Moffat County and the water or wastewater treatment plants in Hayden, Craig and Steamboat.
Cowman said the county has established an internal climate action group of employees who will meet monthly, and one key county initiative includes integrating climate action planning into the current county master plan update.
Other county-level work includes supporting tree planting efforts, conducting energy audits on certain county buildings, including EV and solar ready infrastructure in the forthcoming Health and Human Services building and looking for opportunities in building codes and policies, such as possible EV-ready infrastructure for new homes.
To reach Suzie Romig, call 970-871-4205 or email sromig@SteamboatPilot.com.
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With abnormally low snow levels, most of the snow skiers and snowboarders will encounter Saturday during Steamboat Resort’s Opening Day will be manufactured.