Talking Green: How to engage with our Climate Action Plan

The Routt County Climate Action Plan is nearing its final stages of completion, and there are three upcoming opportunities and requests for public engagement in the planning process. More information and links to join these engagement processes are found at Each of these engagement opportunities seeks to update the community on what strategies and actions are included in the current draft version of the plan and gather community feedback on the strategies and actions in ways that potentially refine the plan before finalizing it.

First, there is brief 10-minute questionnaire that enables you to review and provide feedback on the proposed strategies and actions.

Second, there is a community open house showcasing the plan from 4 to 6 p.m. Monday that you can attend in-person at Centennial Hall, 124 10th St., or virtually. If you join in-person, please wear a mask and maintain social distancing. The open house will begin with a brief presentation on the CAP, and then participants will be able to view the various strategies and actions on easels throughout the hall. Attendees will be able to leave their comments on the strategies and action by placing sticky notes next to text sections. Paper will also be available for more substantial comments, if desired. The online open house will similarly enable review and comments using a virtual collaboration tool called Jamboards.

Third, you can join for the May 18 presentation of the draft plan to the Routt County Board of Commissioners and Steamboat Springs City Council.

Getting to this point in the process is a success worth noting. It is impressive that Routt County, the city of Steamboat Springs and the towns of Hayden, Oak Creek and Yampa can navigate a global pandemic while participating in a collaborative climate action planning process. The planning process began with research and a community survey to understand local priorities and followed with meetings with local experts and stakeholders familiar with the community to identify potential climate action solutions for Routt County. The plan consists of potential strategies and actions our community can take to reduce emissions across key priority areas: transportation, land use, energy, waste, economics and accountability.

Reviewing the plan and government adoption are vital next steps in the process, but it is essential to remember there will be no climate action until we take climate action. The real value of this plan will be known when we as community members and government leaders work together to implement the proposed strategies and actions. Implementing the plan means taking the proposed actions and strategies and determining how to operationalize them in our local context. For example, implementing the recommended waste sector action to “develop a construction and demolition waste program” will require determining who, when, where and how this can most effectively be done in Routt County and then ensuring that those actions are taken. Implementing the plan will require the development of a clear process — and structure — for ensuring our needed climate actions are taken, accounted for and communicated.

As we head towards= these final engagement opportunities in the planning process, let’s work together to ensure that when the plan is complete and adopted, it stays off the shelf and becomes known as a valued instrument of change and action that brings our community together. It will take all of us, and collaboration, to make climate action something that builds the sustainable Yampa Valley future we value and need.

Michelle Stewart is the executive director of the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.

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