County requesting public input on Climate Action Plan through Sunday
The organizing committee for the Routt County Climate Action Plan is asking for community member comments regarding the proposed strategies, actions and tactics of the plan through this weekend before the final draft moves on to municipal leaders later this month.
The fundamentals of the plan are available to view at RouttClimateAction.com/the-plan and explained under the six sectors of energy, transportation, land use, waste, accountability and economics.
The underlying goal of the CAP, if all plan recommendations are implemented, would be to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across Routt County by 74% by 2050 from the baseline of the community’s 2018 greenhouse gas inventory, said CAP consultant Julia Newman, senior associate with Lotus Engineering & Sustainability in Denver. Each of the six sectors for climate change mitigation efforts have three or four strategies with up to eight recommended actions per strategy.
During a hybrid online and in-person meeting Monday afternoon with approximately 40 attendees, Newman explained the CAP process began in March 2020 in collaboration with a local four-person project management team and a larger oversight committee, including an elected official or key staff member from each partnering agency.
Despite COVID-19 pandemic complications barring in-person charrettes, the consultants conducted an initial survey to gather insight on community priorities and hosted various online stakeholder focus groups.
Scott Cowman, Routt County environmental health director and spokesman for the CAP, said organizers moved the CAP forward to take advantage of state and federal funds for climate action plans.
“We are well positioned to take advantage of state and federal resources that are anticipated to become increasingly available in the near future,” Cowman said. “There will be proposed financial commitments on the part of the county and municipalities that will be considered on an annual basis by elected officials as a part of the budget process.”
Routt County and the municipalities of Steamboat Springs, Hayden, Oak Creek and Yampa are all partners in the CAP.
Cowman said the impacts of climate change are apparent in Routt County, ranging from diminished stream flows to high intensity wildfires affecting air quality to the 2-degree average increase in temperature in Colorado in the past 30 years.
“All have the potential to affect our health, economy and way of life,” Cowman said.
Steamboat Springs City Council and the Routt County Board of Commissioners will discuss the CAP’s final draft during a joint workshop at 5 p.m. May 18 with both online Zoom and limited in-person attendance available. The final plan will be released in June. Then the CAP will need to be approved this summer by the commissioners and the municipal councils, according to Winnie DelliQuadri, CAP lead for the city of Steamboat Springs. Other partners assisting with the CAP include Steamboat Springs Chamber and Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp.
A significant portion of the greenhouse gas emission reductions modeled through 2050 in the CAP come from the energy sector, with key contributions via the clean energy transition goals of Xcel Energy, which sells power to Yampa Valley Electric Association. Statewide goals for a majority switch to electric vehicles by 2050 also play a strong role. But strides would need to be made in a variety of other action areas, which are rated in the CAP by priority and complexity.
In the energy sector, some high priority actions include adopting a strategic action plan to improve the energy efficiency of residential and commercial buildings and industrial processes in the community; reducing barriers to deployment of renewable energy through review and modification of codes and policies; and developing or supporting renewable energy projects that benefit the whole community, such as community solar arrays.
In the accountability sector, some high priorities include identifying and developing funding sources for climate action work; developing a collaborative program to share resources and jointly fund projects; and updating the greenhouse gas inventory every five years.
For the land use sector, high priorities include protecting and enhancing wetlands and riparian corridors; creating a public-private partnership to expand forest treatments and reintroducing healthy fire into the landscape; protecting natural resources that promote carbon mitigation; and enhancing policies, guidelines and incentives for Smart Growth and compact development.
In the economics sector, high priority examples include expanding green and energy-certified building stock and transitioning to clean power for government, commercial and residential sectors.
“The CAP provides a menu of strategies, actions and tactics that each entity, as well as other stakeholders and partners, can select from for their climate action work,” Cowman said.
The 10-minute community survey can be found at RouttClimateAction.com/get-involved.
Completion of the CAP was funded by $20,000 each from Routt County and the city of Steamboat, as well as a $25,000 technical assistance grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs.
To reach Suzie Romig, call 970-871-4205 or email sromig@SteamboatPilot.com.
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