Press Release: Julia Hebard, CAP Media Contact
Despite the record-breaking snowpack this year, over the past two decades, Routt County has experienced a steady trend of reduced snowfall, rapid runoff, increased frequency of river closures due to high water temperatures and low flow, and elevated severity of wildfires. Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions drive these changes in our climate, which is why Routt County, the City of Steamboat Springs and the Towns of Hayden, Oak Creek and Yampa jointly adopted the Routt County Climate Action Plan (CAP) and developed a Climate Action Collaborative to implement the plan. Implementing the CAP will result in reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 35% by 2030 and 74% by 2050.
History of the Routt County Climate Action Plan & Collaborative
Local climate action efforts date back to the early 2000s when the first Routt County Greenhouse Gas (GHG) inventory was commissioned, documenting 2005 emission levels. That study was the catalyst for many emissions-reduction actions including updating local building codes, energy performance contracting and the implementation of renewable energy projects.
In 2018, a second GHG inventory was commissioned, re-affirming the County’s major sources of emissions and providing local governments data to understand emissions trends and chart a course for collective action on climate change. Working with Lotus Engineering, the company that produced both GHG inventories, the County and its municipalities developed the Routt County Climate Action Plan (CAP). The CAP details strategies that can be taken to reduce GHG emissions across five sectors including energy, transportation, waste, land use and economy.
In 2021, recognizing that the only way to effectively implement the CAP was by working together, county officials alongside the City of Steamboat Springs and the Towns of Hayden, Oak Creek and Yampa signed an Intergovernmental Agreement and facilitated the creation of the Routt County Climate Action Plan Collaborative. The goal was to create an organizational structure and Collaborative Board to help facilitate regional decision-making in regard to climate action and to help track the execution of the CAP and associated GHG reductions.
Meet the Collaborative Board
The Collaborative Board consists of nine members, including 4 community members and a representative from each of the local government partners. The Board meets monthly to offer substantive expertise and to help assure consistency, coordination and integration of the CAP across the county. Meetings are open to the public and agendas and minutes can be found at routtclimateaction.com. The Yampa Valley Sustainability Council currently serves as the Program Management Entity, providing administrative and programmatic support, and carrying out communication activities for the Collaborative Board.
Sonja Macys (Routt County Commissioner, District III)
Scott Cowman (Director of Environmental Health, Routt County (alternate))
Gail Garey (Board Chair – City of Steamboat Springs, City Council Member District I)
Dakotah McGinlay (City of Steamboat Springs, City Council Member District III (alternate))
Mathew Mendisco (Board Co-Chair – Town of Hayden, Town of Hayden)
Tegan Ebbert (Community Development Director, Town of Hayden (alternate))
Nikki Knoebel (Mayor, Town of Oak Creek)
David Torgler (Town Administrator/Clerk, Town of Oak Creek (alternate))
Sheila Symons (Town Administrator/Clerk, Town of Yampa (alternate))
Michael Geanious (Trustee, Town of Yampa)
Geoff Blakeslee (Yampa River Project Director (retired), The Nature Conservancy)
Sarah Jones (Board Treasurer – Director of Social Responsibility, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corporation)
Tim Wohlgenant (Executive Director, Yampa Valley Community Foundation)
Steve Johnson (President and General Manager, Yampa Valley Electric Association)
Technical working groups consisting of 10-15 Board-approved members have been created and convene monthly. Meetings are open to the public and agendas are posted at routtclimateaction.com The working groups are in the process of inventorying current climate action efforts within each sector to identify gaps and to determine actionable, high impact recommendations to bring back to local governments this summer.
The importance of the Routt County Climate Action Plan to County residents cannot be overstated. Unaddressed, climate change presents a threat to human health and quality of life, and our local economy. The Routt County Climate Action Plan is a critical step forward in addressing the effects of climate change in our community. By working together, residents, governments and all other stakeholders can help reduce our carbon footprint, promote energy efficiency, and protect our communities for future generations. To learn more about the plan and how you can get involved, please visit https://www.routtclimateaction.com/.