Many of us are ready to move on from 2020. We've faced a devastating pandemic, catastrophic wildfires, poor air quality, isolation, and, for too many, the loss of family and friends.
Yet, hardship often reveals our concealed muscles of resilience and adaptability – two mighty qualities that keep us buoyant, hardy, and strong. When a community is more resilient, it’s able to respond to, withstand, and recover from adversity – to bounce back. In this newsletter, I am excited to share what Gold Hill residents are doing to advance their resilience and sustainability strategies to thrive in the face of challenges that uniquely impact our mountain towns.
Despite very much looking forward to the end of this year, the bright spots glisten: wearing cozy clothes to work, our toddler’s voice as my daily background music, long family dinners, the third grade pod learning in the basement, and knowing the way our home feels throughout the day. If I re-frame the experience, being able to connect meaningfully with place and family – have been unexpected gifts. Nonetheless, goodbye 2020, goodbye. — Susie
Gold Hill Resilient Renewable Energy Project
Like many mountain communities, Gold Hill is particularly vulnerable to natural disasters and extreme weather events, which can threaten access, communications, water quality, and energy supplies. Climate change is expected to increase the frequency and severity of natural disasters and extreme weather events throughout the western U.S., and Gold Hill has already been heavily impacted by wildfire in 2010 and flooding in 2013.
Motivated by past experience and alarming projections for the future, the Gold Hill community has sought to improve community resilience and encourage use of renewable energy to mitigate climate change. A comprehensive Feasibility Study was published earlier this year with the help of a citizen-led advisory committee that included engineers, solar experts, a water resource specialist, and a poet.
The Feasibility Study assesses the technical, economic, and regulatory feasibility of several approaches to implementing resilient, low-carbon electric power infrastructure in Gold Hill. It articulates a vision of a resilient energy system that directly benefits all types of residents within the Gold Hill community. This work also aims to create a scalable and replicable approach for other mountain communities in Boulder County and elsewhere in Colorado to address energy resilience and climate change.
Read the study here.
Watch a presentation of study findings to the Board of County Commissioners here.
Click on the video below for additional educational resources and webinars about the project:
Deadline Approaching for Sustainable Food and Agriculture Fund Applications
Do you have a project that could benefit Boulder County pasture or farmland, improve soil health, support local food producers, or combat climate change?
Boulder County is allocating up to $305,000 for projects that impact four broad areas within local food and agriculture:
- On-farm regenerative agriculture and soil health practices;
- Farmer/producer education, conferences, and workshops that focus on sustainable and regenerative agriculture demonstrations;
- On-farm and farmer’s market infrastructure;
- Sustainable local food and crop production.
Any registered business, official non-profit organization, or government entity can apply for funding at a minimum of $40,000 to a maximum of $150,000 per project or apply to the small project fund at a minimum of $2,000 to a maximum of $5,000.
Application materials must be submitted by Jan. 6, 2021 at 11:59 p.m. for consideration.
Watch the video below to see how SkyPilot Farm used their grant to improve soil health across the county by expanding their mobile grazing practices.
Winter Tips for Protecting Waterways
Winter is here, which means snow capped peaks and ice-covered creeks, but it also means slippery conditions and breaking out boots and shovels.
Deicers can keep walkways and driveways safe when there's snow and ice, but when used in large quantities they're harmful to aquatic life. Melting snow carries deicers and other pollutants into storm drains, which empty into nearby streams without treatment. So what can you do at home to help protect people and waterways after a winter storm? Keep It Clean Partnership has some tips:
- Make sure trash and recycling bin lids are securely attached to prevent litter from blowing onto snow.
- Pick up pet waste from lawns and gardens to reduce the amount of excess bacteria and nutrients being carried by melting snow.
- Shovel snow from sidewalks onto vegetated areas so it can soak into the ground rather than flow onto the street.
- If using a deicer, apply according to instructions as soon as snowy or icy conditions appear. Deicers help break the bond between ice and pavement to make shoveling easier. They do not evaporate the snow and ice, so adding more does not eliminate the need to shovel.
Visit the links below for more winter storm resources in your community:
Boulder | Erie | Lafayette | Longmont | Louisville | Superior
Boulder County Road Maintenance Snow Removal
Survey: State of Colorado Seeks Input on Climate Equity and Environmental Justice
The state of Colorado especially wants to hear from people of color and low-income communities. All input will be anonymous and will help shape state climate solutions in the years to come.
Complete the survey now:
Community Survey on State Climate Equity Work (English)
Community Survey on State Climate Equity Work (Spanish)
Last Chance for 2020 Electric Vehicle Tax Credits
Thinking about purchasing an electric car? You have until the end of the year to get up to $11,500 in state and federal tax credits; an amount that will be reduced in 2021. Visit boco.org/ElectricVehicles to see which tax credits and incentives you could qualify for and check back in 2021 to see what new offers become available.
Commissioner Deb Gardner: Polis must take bolder stance on climate
“The Governor’s Office must go further with its climate plans to crack down on emissions that degrade our air quality, contribute to a warming climate, and disproportionately impact vulnerable communities," writes Boulder County Commissioner Deb Gardner.
Read the full op-ed in the Colorado Sun.
Sustainable Food and Ag Fund profiled in Colorado Ag Today
"No other county is doing something quite like this to support ag professionals who want to increase sustainable practices," says Tim Broderick, OSCAR Senior Sustainability Strategist.
Listen to the full audio segment here.
Colorado Air Quality Control Commission updates and how you can help shape policy in 2021
On December 18, the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) approved the proposed State Implementation Plan (SIP) for ozone and a requirement for quicker leak repair at oil and gas sites within 1,000 feet of occupied areas.
The approved plan has three key components:
- More protective standards for emissions from "major sources" that emit more than 50 tons per year of ozone precursors including oil and gas sources, certain Public Service Company engines and turbines, and certain categories such as boilers and foam manufacturing.
- An "attainment demonstration" asserting that the Denver Metro/North Front Range region is meeting the 2008 federal ozone standards (despite air quality monitoring data shows continued violations of the standards).
- An acknowledgement that the region is still violating the 2008 federal standards and will need to transition from "serious nonattainment" status to "severe nonattainment" status.
The attainment demonstration is especially controversial because the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment's (CDPHE) air monitoring data show that the Denver and North Front Range region is still violating ozone pollution standards from 2008, in addition to the newer and more protective standards from 2015. The failure to acknowledge that the region is likely to face an additional downgrading from "serious nonattainment" to "severe nonattainment" because of our persistently high ozone levels also raised concerns.
“The AQCC missed a chance to honestly address the poor air quality faced by millions of people in Denver and along the North Front Range," said Bill Hayes, Boulder County Public Health Air Quality Program Coordinator. "The same pollutants causing our dangerous ozone levels are also fueling the record-breaking wildfires we suffered this year. We appreciate that they are taking some steps to reduce ozone pollution, but their legal maneuvering today will mean more years of dangerous ozone levels and more of the same damaging impacts we’re already seeing from climate change."
Colorado’s climate rules are being made at the Air Quality Control Commission in 2021. Here's how you can get involved:
Legislation passed in 2019 opened the doors to major strides in climate change regulation in Colorado. Major steps will be taken in January and public input is encouraged. The AQCC will host a two-day remote hearing on January 21 and 22 with the following agenda:
- Oil and Gas: consider a potential joint resolution between conservation groups, the local government coalition, and industry on emissions from pneumatic controllers
Colorado’s Greenhouse Gas Roadmap will be presented and discussed
- CDPHE Executive Director Jill Ryan will consult with the Commission regarding the Department’s plans for a proclamation regarding racism as a public health crisis
Visit the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) page to register to attend the hearing or submit your written comments. The registration forms will be activated at 8:00 a.m. on January 12, 2021.