Climate Action Plan sector working groups developing gap analysis |

Climate Action Plan sector working groups developing gap analysis

Routt County Climate Action Plan Collaborative Board member Sarah Jones, left, emphasizes a point during the board's most recent meeting on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022, at Hayden Town Hall.
Suzie Romig/Steamboat Pilot & Today

The five sector working groups under the umbrella of the Routt County Climate Action Plan Collaborative Board are being finalized this month and include more than 50 local and industry expert volunteers.

The working groups currently are conducting a gap analysis to prioritize recommended actions to help leaders move forward with specific measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the county. The sector groups are soliciting input about what climate action items are in the works by the four municipalities and Routt County, which all adopted the Climate Action Plan by August 2021.

“Our focus is on getting people engaged with the CAP, knowing what’s in the plan and knowing why it matters,” board chair Beth Melton explained at the most recent Climate Action Plan meeting on Friday, Oct. 28, at Hayden Town Hall. “Education and communication are important roles.”

A fifth and final working group representing the economic sector was approved by the board last week. Working groups in the areas of energy, land use, transportation, waste and economy follow the countywide Climate Action Plan, found at The working group members encompass a wide range of local expertise ranging from private business and nonprofit leaders to city and county employees.

The sixth major goal of the Climate Action Plan is accountability, which will be managed by the overall nine-member collaborative board, Melton said.

The currently designated working group chairs include former state representative and retired college professor Diane Mitsch-Bush for transportation, Yampa Valley Electric Association General Manager Steve Johnson for energy, retired conservation organization director Geoff Blakeslee for land use and Community Agriculture Alliance Program Coordinator Meredith Rose for waste.

The next step for the board is scheduling in-person meetings before the end of the year with the governmental adoptees of the plan and other key organizations across the county that represent sectors for greenhouse gas pollution emissions.

“How can the working groups support you? What are your goals? What info do you need?” Melton noted for the agenda with upcoming partner and organization meetings. “Everyone adopted the CAP, and what that actually means in practice is still to be determined.”

Board members emphasized that the signatories to the Climate Action Plan agreed to a general strategic direction to make decisions that reduce pollution emissions. However, the working groups’ gap analysis will help to create a prioritized menu of steps to spur leaders to tackle next actions.

According to the Routt County webpage on the climate challenge, the top climate threats facing the region include increased temperatures, reduced snowpack, increased wildfire risk, increased drought, increased variability in precipitation patterns and increased flooding.

“Routt County recognizes the urgent need to reduce emissions and prevent the worst impacts of climate change,” according to the Climate Action Plan. “If current emissions levels are not abated, the county and similar mountain communities and local tourism-based economies across Colorado and the Southwest are in danger of experiencing significant impacts from changes in the regional climate.”

The adopted plan includes 22 basic strategies to reduce emissions and increase sustainability across the community ranging from increasing renewable fuel sources to having 20% of vehicles registered in the county being electric by 2030. If all strategies were implemented successfully, the county could reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 35% by 2030 and 74% by 2050 compared to the 2018 emissions baseline, according to the plan.

Steamboat Springs, Routt County, Hayden, Oak Creek and Yampa adopted the countywide plan, and the collaborative board includes a representative from each organization, plus four community members. The board acknowledged last week that aligning municipal decisions with emissions reduction measures can be challenging.

“It’s going to be a challenge to get people on board and to get people aligned with what’s in the plan, but all the municipalities have signed off on the plan,” Blakeslee said.

“Each municipality adopting or creating their specific goals will help provide that accountability in decision-making,” said board member Sarah Jones, director of sustainability and community engagement for Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. “The range of strategies is really quite wide.”

Climate Action Plan board meetings are open to the public, and the next meeting is planned for 10 a.m. Nov. 18 at the downtown county courthouse with the following meeting on Dec. 16.

The Climate Action Plan board officially kicked off in January, and Johnson will roll off the board in January 2023. The board is recruiting for an interested community member to fill that seat with applications due by Nov. 17. More information is available through the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council at

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