#Snowpack news (October 21, 2021): #Colorado don’t know nothing but the blues, but it is way to early to start dancing a jig

Click on a thumbnail graphic to view a gallery of snowpack data from the NRCS.

Here’s the Westwide Snotel basin-filled map for October 21, 2021 from the NRCS.

Westwide SNOTEL basin-filled map October 21, 2021.

This week’s Topsoil Moisture Short/Very Short by @usda_oce

It was another week for big improvements in topsoil moisture – in most areas.

Note the double-digit improvement in OK, TX, IL, WI, and MO, along with 9-point improvements in AR, SD, WY, and UT. #drought
@USDA

@usda_nass

#Drought news: Slight changes in depiction for #Colorado

Click on a thumbnail graphic to view a gallery of drought data from the U.S. Drought Monitor.

Click here to go to the US Drought Monitor website. Here’s an excerpt:

This Week’s Drought Summary

A strong low pressure system resulted in widespread precipitation (0.5 to 3 inches, liquid equivalent) from the central Rockies east to the northern and central Great Plains from October 11 to 13. More than a foot of snow blanketed parts of Montana, Wyoming, and western South Dakota. Along a trailing cold front, heavy to excessive rainfall (1 to 3 inches, locally more) occurred across eastern Oklahoma and central to eastern Texas. As this front progressed eastward, scattered thunderstorms with locally more than one inch of rainfall swept across the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys. Much of New York and northern New England received 1 to 2.5 inches of rainfall on October 16. Only light weekly precipitation amounts (generally less than 1 inch, liquid equivalent) were observed along the Cascades, coastal ranges of the Pacific Northwest, and northern Sierra Nevada Mountains from October 12 to 18. Dry weather prevailed throughout much of the Southeast, Southwest, and northern Intermountain West during this 7-day time period. Southeastern Mainland Alaska and the Alaska Panhandle received near normal precipitation amounts during mid-October. Enhanced trade winds resulted in locally heavy rain across east-facing slopes of the Big Island of Hawaii recently. Locally heavy rainfall also occurred throughout Puerto Rico this past week. 7-day temperatures (Oct 12-18) remained above average across the eastern third of the U.S., while below average temperatures were observed over the West…

High Plains

Widespread precipitation (1 to 3 inches, liquid equivalent) since 12Z on Oct 12 prompted a large 1-category improvement across the Dakotas and an adjustment to only show long-term drought impacts for much of the northern Plains. Excluding the northwest corner of North Dakota, 14-day precipitation amounts have totaled 2 to 6 inches. Extreme drought (D3) remains across northwest North Dakota, based on long-term SPIs and soil moisture below the 5th percentile. Improvements were also made across parts of Nebraska and Kansas due to weekly precipitation amounts of greater than 1 inch and soil moisture recovery. Likewise, an increase in soil moisture indicators resulted in small improvements across parts of Wyoming…

Colorado Drought Monitor one week change map ending October 19, 2021.

West

Severe (D2) to exceptional (D4) drought continues throughout much of the Pacific Northwest, California, and the Great Basin. Nearly all of this region remained status-quo in terms of drought changes as the Monsoon season ended and the wet season just began. A robust Monsoon brought an end to short-term drought impacts across Arizona and southern Utah, but long-term drought impacts persist. Along and west of the Cascades, above normal precipitation was observed across western Oregon and Washington since mid-September. This favorable start to the wet season along with improving streamflows and SPI values support the removal of small D4 in Douglas and Linn counties of Oregon. Periods of beneficial precipitation and cooler temperatures led to an improvement from D4 to D3 along the mountain range front in Utah. However, D4 persists across the Sevier River Basin of southern Utah. The increase in precipitation, related to the onset of the wet season, along with much cooler temperatures resulted in a large decrease in the number of large wildfires throughout the West during mid-October. Extreme drought (D3) was expanded across northwest Montana based on 28-day streamflows near the 5th percentile along with 30 to 60-day SPIs. Conversely, last week’s major storm prompted slight reduction in drought intensity across parts of eastern Montana…

South

Following rapid expansion of D0 (abnormal dryness) and D1 (short-term moderate drought) during September across Oklahoma and northwest Arkansas, above normal precipitation during the first half of October resulted in a continued decrease in the coverage of D0 and D1. Month-to-date rainfall amounts totaled 2 to 6 inches throughout much of central and eastern Oklahoma along with northwest Arkansas. Farther south into central Texas, recent heavy rainfall also supported minor modification to the ongoing D0 and D1 areas. Abnormal dryness (D0) was maintained for parts of southeast Oklahoma due to ongoing 30 to 60-day indicators and lower rainfall amounts during the past two weeks. Abnormal dryness (D0) and short-term moderate drought (D1) was expanded slightly to include more of southwest Arkansas and northwest Louisiana which missed out on the heavier rainfall this past week and precipitation deficits have increased. Moderate (D1) to severe (D2) drought continues to expand across west Texas where 60-day precipitation deficits range from 2 to 5 inches and soil moisture indicators have worsened…

Looking Ahead

During the next 5 days (October 21 to 25), a series of low pressure systems with an increasingly strong onshore flow are likely to bring heavy to excessive precipitation (2 to 10 inches, locally more) to the Pacific Northwest and northern California. Elsewhere, the most widespread precipitation (0.5 to 2 inches) is forecast over the Corn Belt. Little to no precipitation is expected for much of the Great Plains, Southwest, Gulf Coast States, and East Coast. Along with the dry weather for the southern Great Plains, a return of above normal temperatures are forecast.

The CPC 6-10 day extended range outlook (valid from October 26 to 30) favors above normal temperatures across the central and eastern U.S. with below normal temperatures more likely for the West. Near to below normal temperatures are favored for a majority of Alaska. Above normal precipitation is likely across the Pacific Northwest, northern California, and the Great Basin, while below normal precipitation is most likely across the Southwest and southern high Plains. Probabilities for above normal precipitation are elevated from the Mississippi Valley to the East Coast.

US Drought Monitor one week change map ending October 19, 2021.

Governor Polis Announces Partnership to Manage Sweetwater Lake as Newest #Colorado State Park

Here’s the release from Governor Polis’ office:

New State Park Builds on Polis Administration’s Historic Levels of Direct Investment in Our Outdoors & Lands

Today Governor Jared Polis announced a partnership among Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the U.S. Forest Service (White River National Forest), and Eagle Valley Land Trust (EVLT) to create Colorado’s 43rd State Park at Sweetwater Lake. The partners are now working to develop a long-term management plan to improve recreational facilities and maintain the unique character of the area. This is the second State Park created under the Polis administration, with Fishers Peak in Trinidad officially opening almost a year ago.

“Sweetwater Lake is simply gorgeous, and has great potential for even more recreational opportunities like a campground,” said Governor Polis. “This is the first of its kind partnership in Colorado to create a state park on U.S. Forest Service land, and we look forward to working with our partners and Coloradans with the ultimate goal of adding Sweetwater Lake to Colorado’s world-class state park system for fun, conservation, education, and to support job growth for the region.”

Jacque Buchanan, Deputy Regional Forester, U.S. Forest Service, Jessica Foulis, Executive Director, Eagle Valley Land Trust, Dan Gibbs, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Jeannie McQueeney, Eagle County Commissioner, and Representatives Dylan Roberts & Perry Will spoke at the event.

The White River National Forest acquired the 488-acre Sweetwater Ranch in Garfield County on August 31, 2021, through a federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) purchase. The area had been identified among the top 10 priority LWCF purchases nationwide to increase public recreation opportunities as well as to protect the area’s important wildlife habitat, cultural and scenic values. This LWCF purchase followed the acquisition of the property in 2020 by The Conservation Fund, which was made possible by a loan from Great Outdoors Colorado and local fundraising efforts such as the “Save the Lake” Campaign organized by EVLT.

“Sweetwater Lake has tremendous ecological and cultural values and outstanding opportunities for recreation. This partnership allows the White River National Forest to incorporate the local expertise of the Eagle Valley Land Trust and the recreation management and wildlife expertise of Colorado Parks and Wildlife to best serve visitors to the area,” said Rocky Mountain Regional Forester Frank Beum.

The acquisition of the 488-acre Sweetwater ranch property significantly increases the existing public access to the lake. However, very little infrastructure is currently in place to facilitate public recreation. Improved facilities, including a new boat launch, will be available to the public by June 1st, 2022. Additional buildout will follow the completion of a long-term plan, in consultation with the public, for expanding and managing the recreational opportunities at Sweetwater Lake while preserving the unique, relatively undeveloped nature of the property.

“Sweetwater Lake is a hidden gem, both as a destination and gateway to the Flat Top Wilderness. The partnership formed to protect and manage this unique landscape is an extension of the state and federal commitment to shared stewardship, which the Governor and U.S.D.A. initiated in 2019,” said Dan Gibbs, Executive Director, Colorado Department of Natural Resources.”

This summer, Governor Polis was proud to sign several pieces of legislation that provide more opportunities for Coloradans to go out and recreate, as well as key measures to protect the state’s outdoor beauty, and provide sustainable funding for the outdoors. The Keep Colorado Wild Pass bill, signed by Governor Polis in June, creates an optional low-cost state park and public lands pass, cutting the current cost by half or more by 2023. The new pass will make outdoor recreation opportunities more accessible while increasing the state’s ability to conserve, plan and invest in our public lands for the long term. Governor Polis also signed into law the Outdoor Equity Grant Program in June, which will increase access and opportunities for underserved youth and their families to enjoy Colorado’s outdoors.

“Colorado Parks and Wildlife is excited to modernize facilities, and provide updated and sustainable recreational services through this partnership. Our main priority is to conserve the unique character of the area while improving access to this incredible property,” said CPW Director Dan Prenzlow.

“The conservation of Sweetwater Lake is the realization of a community vision decades in the making. EVLT is looking forward to closely coordinating with the Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife as we move forward with plans for Sweetwater Lake,” said Jessica Foulis, Executive Director, Eagle Valley Land Trust.

Colorado is home to more than 22 million acres of public lands, ranging from wetlands to forests, canyon landscapes to mountain lakes. Governor Polis is a strong supporter of Colorado’s outdoors and has fulfilled his pledge to double the amount of publicly accessible land trust enrolled in the Public Access Program.

Here are photos of the lake. View the press conference here.

From The Colorado Sun (Jason Blevins):

The White River National Forest took ownership of the oasis adjacent to the Flat Tops Wilderness this summer after securing $8.5 million from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Two years ago, The Conservation Fund and the Eagle Valley Land Trust joined to buy the property from a Denver investment group, with a plan to transfer it over to the national forest.

The White River is the eighth owner of the parcel in the last few decades. The remote acreage has been eyed by wealthy investors for development of golf courses, a private community of luxury homes and even a water bottling plant.

Adrienne Brink first visited Sweetwater Lake as a 19-year-old in 1969 on a backcountry horseback trip. She returned a few years later with her husband and bought the horse packing outfitter. They bought the Sweetwater Resort — some cabins, a restaurant, a boat launch and a campground, in the mid 1980s. They’ve been running trips — with a permit from the White River National Forest — and hosting visitors ever since. In that time, she’s seen six owners come and go, not counting the two conservation groups or the Forest Service.

Those investors had big dreams. She’s got maps they sketched of golf courses in meadows where she grazes her horses. The water-bottling planners — “really nice guys,” she said — left her unable to irrigate those meadows as they studied flows from the spring where they hoped to collect water to sell under the name “Vaspen.”

But none of the big dreamers ever made any progress. They never invested in the property. They never even put a shovel to dirt…

Colorado and the Forest Service created a “shared stewardship” agreement in 2019, with a memorandum of understanding that provided the framework for the state and Forest Service to work with local communities, tribal partners and a host of other agencies “to work collaboratively to accomplish mutual goals, further common interests and effectively respond to the challenges facing the communities, landscapes, natural resources and cultural resources of the state.”

That program has led the state and Forest Service to map wildfire hazards and possible mitigation strategies. And now it’s led to a new state park. Dan Gibbs, the director of Colorado’s Department of Natural Resources, said he’s working with the Bureau of Land Management on a similar shared stewardship agreement…

The new park — which has not been officially named but Gibbs said would likely include a nod to the White River National Forest — is a blueprint for state and federal cooperation in expanding Colorado’s state parks. The effort to protect Sweetwater Lake included the towns of Gypsum and Eagle, Eagle and Garfield counties and local residents who led the “Save the Lake” effort to raise local dollars for the transfer to public ownership. The Conservation Fund has given the Eagle Valley Land Trust more than $1 million for the Sweetwater Lake Stewardship & Equity Fund, which will help fund improvement and improve access for underprivileged communities…

The Conservation Fund was first to galvanize the movement to protect Sweetwater Lake after an investment group that took control of the property from the stalled water-bottlers listed the property in 2017 for $9.3 million. The group joined with the Eagle Valley Land Trust and Great Outdoors Colorado and then gathered support from diverse boards of county commissioners, town councils and local residents in addition to state and federal land managers in the effort to protect Sweetwater Lake from yet another developer with big plans.

“It just came so close to being lost to development and being a private high-end resort community,” Spring said. “We were hopeful we would get to his point.”

Nine #Colorado basin roundtables submit $20.3B in #water project lists, ask for public’s input — @WaterEdCO

River rafters, fishermen and SUP users float on the Gunnison River on June 20, 2021. Credit: Dean Krakel

From Water Education Colorado (Jerd Smith):

Colorado communities from Greeley to Durango have identified $20.3 billion in water projects that will help ensure residents have adequate water, that agricultural supplies are protected, and that rivers and streams can continue to support fish and wildlife as population growth, chronic drought and climate change threaten future water supplies.

According to the 2015 Colorado Water Plan, the state faces a gap between expected demand and existing water supply of as much as 560,000 acre-feet per year for cities and industry by 2050.

Colorado is home to eight major river basins, each of which is governed by a public roundtable. A ninth basin roundtable represents the Denver metro area.

These entities are charged with evaluating each region’s water needs and projects that would help meet those needs. Funding for those projects will likely come from several sources including local governments and water utilities, and state and federal funding.

Known as basin implementation plans (BIPs), the working documents summarizing those projects and needs were submitted to the state earlier this month and are open for public comment through Nov. 15. These plans are updated versions of the originals that were initially developed by the roundtables in 2015 to inform the Colorado Water Plan.

Since 2015, the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), which is responsible for implementing the water plan, has spent some $500 million in grants and loans helping fund water projects across the state, according to Russ Sands, head of water supply planning at the CWCB.

The plans are a key part of Colorado’s larger statewide effort to ensure it has adequate water supplies. The Colorado Water Plan is the primary document that guides state water policy and it relies on the planning efforts of the local roundtables.

“The basin roundtables represent a grassroots initiative that allow access to state planning,” Sands said.

The South Platte and Metro basin roundtables, which submitted a combined plan, have the most costly project list at $9.8 billion. This figure includes costs of projects that are planned, currently being implemented, or recently completed.

The South Platte Basin is home to the largest population centers and covers metro Denver, Fort Collins, Boulder, Greeley and Sterling, among dozens of other communities.

The next largest project list comes from the Colorado River Basin on the West Slope. It has identified $4.1 billion in water projects that will help it ensure its residents’ future needs are addressed.

The eight major river basins, plus the Denver metro area, are shown on this map from the South Platte River Basin Roundtable. Each basin has its own roundtable, made up of volunteers, to address local water issues.
Credit: Colorado Water Conservation Board

The roundtables, made up of water professionals, citizens and local elected representatives, receive funding to operate from the CWCB. They also help fund projects each deem important to meeting a local need, whether it is improving an irrigation company’s diversion structure, building a new reservoir, funding a stream restoration project, or building a new kayak park.

The plans are “important because the process was to identify gaps in what a basin needs for irrigated agriculture, municipal and industrial, and environmental and recreational needs,” said Jason Turner, who chairs the Colorado River Basin Roundtable. “We have a robust mix of all sorts of projects and it allows people who, say, live on the Roaring Fork [a tributary] to understand some of the bigger Colorado River issues as well.”

Barbara Biggs is chair of the Metro Roundtable. She said the project list for the combined South Platte and Metro roundtables represents one of the most detailed assessments of water needs on the Front Range.

“Just creating the project database is a huge step in the right direction because it will allow us to track and measure our success,” she said.

The basin plans are scheduled to be finalized at the end of January 2022 and will be incorporated into an update of the 2015 Colorado Water Plan next year.

Jerd Smith is editor of Fresh Water News. She can be reached at 720-398-6474, via email at jerd@wateredco.org or @jerd_smith.

What’s behind the magic of live music? — The Conversation


After taking a pandemic-induced hiatus in 2020, Lollapalooza returned to Chicago in summer 2021.
Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Mariusz Kozak, Columbia University

For months, fans were relegated to watching their favorite singers and musicians over Zoom or via webcasts. Now, live shows – from festivals like Lollapalooza to Broadway musicals – are officially back.

The songs that beamed into living rooms during the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic may have featured an artist’s hits. But there’s just something magical about seeing music surrounded by other people. Some fans reported being so moved by their first live shows in nearly two years that they wept with joy.

As a music theorist, I’ve spent my career trying to figure out just what that “magic” is. And part of understanding this requires thinking about music as more than simply sounds washing over a listener.

Music as more than communication

Music is often thought of as a twin sister to language. Whereas words tend to convey ideas and knowledge, music transmits emotions.

According to this view, performers broadcast their messages – the music – to their audience. Listeners decode the messages on the basis of their own listening habits, and that’s how they interpret the emotions the performers hope to communicate.

But if all music did was communicate emotions, watching an online concert should’ve been no different than going to a live show. After all, in both cases, listeners heard the same melodies, the same harmonies and the same rhythms.

So what couldn’t be experienced through a computer screen?

The short answer is that music does far more than communicate. When witnessed in person, with other people, it can create powerful physical and emotional bonds.

A ‘mutual tuning-in’

Without physical interactions, our well-being suffers. We fail to achieve what the philosopher Alfred Schütz called a “mutual tuning-in,” or what the pianist and Harvard professor Vijay Iyer more recently described as “being together in time.”

In my book “Enacting Musical Time,” I note that time has a certain feel and texture that goes beyond the mere fact of its passage. It can move faster or slower, of course. But it can also thrum with emotion: There are times that are somber, joyous, melancholy, exuberant and so on.

When the passage of time is experienced in the presence of others, it can give rise to a form of intimacy in which people revel or grieve together. That may be why physical distancing and social isolation imposed by the pandemic were so difficult for so many people – and why many people whose lives and routines were upended reported an unsettling change in their sense of time.

When we’re in physical proximity, our mutual tuning-in toward one another actually generates bodily rhythms that make us feel good and gives us a greater sense of belonging. One study found that babies who are bounced to music in sync with an adult display increased altruism toward that person, while another found that people who are close friends tend to synchronize their movements when talking or walking together.

Music isn’t necessary for this synchronization to emerge, but rhythms and beats facilitate the synchronization by giving it a shape.

On the one hand, music encourages people to make specific movements and gestures while they dance or clap or just bob their heads to the beat. On the other, music gives audiences a temporal scaffold: where to place these movements and gestures so that they’re synchronized with others.

Harry Connick, Jr. gets the crowd clapping in unison.

The great synchronizer

Because of the pleasurable effect of being synchronized with people around you, the emotional satisfaction you get from listening or watching online is fundamentally different from going to a live performance. At a concert, you can see and feel other bodies around you.

Even when explicit movement is restricted, like at a typical Western classical concert, you sense the presence of others, a mass of bodies that punctures your personal bubble.

The music shapes this mass of humanity, giving it structure, suggesting moments of tension and relaxation, of breath, of fluctuations in energy – moments that might translate into movement and gesture as soon as people become tuned into one another.

This structure is usually conveyed with sound, but different musical practices around the world suggest that the experience is not limited to hearing. In fact, it can include the synchronization of visuals and human touch.

For example, in the deaf musical community, sound is only one small part of the expression. In Christine Sun Kim’s “face opera ii” – a piece for prelingually deaf performers – participants “sing” without using their hands, and instead use facial gestures and movements to convey emotions. Like the line “fa-la-la-la-la” in the famous Christmas carol “Deck the Halls,” words can be deprived of their meaning until all that’s left is their emotional tone.

In some cultures, music is, conceptually, no different from dance, ritual or play. For example, the Blackfeet in North America use the same word to refer to a combination of music, dance and ceremony. And the Bayaka Pygmies of Central Africa have the same term for different forms of music, cooperation and play.

Boy dressed in colorful ceremonial garb dances.
The Blackfeet, a Native American tribe, don’t have separate words for music, dance and ceremony.
RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Many other groups around the world categorize communal pursuits under the same umbrella.

They all use markers of time like a regular beat – whether it’s the sound of a gourd rattle during a Suyá Kahran Ngere ceremony or groups of girls chanting “Mary Mack dressed in black” in a hand-clapping game – to allow participants to synchronize their movements.

Not all of these practices necessarily evoke the word “music.” But we can think of them as musical in their own way. They all teach people how to act in relation to one another by teasing, guiding and even urging them to move together.

In time. As one.

[Get the best of The Conversation, every weekend. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.]The Conversation

Mariusz Kozak, Associate Professor of Music and Music Theory, Columbia University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

#FortCollins City Council narrows scope of 1041 regulations, hears #climate progress update — The Fort Collins Coloradoan

from The Fort Collins Coloradoan (Jacy Marmaduke):

1041 regulations and moratorium

After heavy public comment and debate, council voted 6-1 to change the scope of the city’s pending 1041 regulations and the moratorium they plan to put in place while staff is working on the regulations.

Both the one-year moratorium and the eventual regulations will now apply only to water and sewage treatment projects and highway/interchange projects that will be located in city parks or natural areas. The parks and natural areas component is the new part. Council narrowed the scope of the proposal in hopes of quelling concerns from developers and water providers while honoring the views of commenters who want the city to advocate for natural resource conservation.

The 1041 regulations provide an avenue for municipalities and counties to have more stringent oversight of certain types of “state interest” projects, a broad category that can include everything from water pipelines to mass transit to nuclear detonations. But the localities have to opt into the process, designate the state interest areas they want to regulate and draft their own regulations. The council majority that favors 1041 regulations sees them as an alternative to the city’s SPAR (Site Plan Advisory Review) process, which provides for nonbinding review of developments of state interest.

Now that council has designated areas of interest, a moratorium will take effect immediately and last until council adopts the 1041 regulations. It will prevent construction or development review of any water/sewer treatment or highway project that would be located wholly or partly in city parks or natural areas. The city is engineering an exemption process that may allow for some projects to bypass the moratorium, and 1041 review. Council will only exempt projects if they think adverse impacts can be avoided without a binding review process and the project meaningfully addresses an important community need that can’t be put off.

When council last discussed this topic in September, the 1041 regulations and moratorium were expected to apply to all water/sewer and highway projects in city limits. The initial scope inspired intense opposition from several developers and water districts in the region. A particular point of concern was the potential impacts of a moratorium on the NEWT III water pipeline project (short for North Weld County and East Larimer County Water Districts Water Transmission Pipeline Project). That pipeline will deliver water to many new housing developments in the region. The news of the moratorium led the North Weld County Water District board to issue a temporary moratorium on all tap sales and plant investment sales, and East Larimer County Water District leaders said they would likely do the same if a moratorium took effect.

Others who opposed or voiced concerns about the 1041 regulations and moratorium included Severance Mayor Matt Fries, the town of Timnath and the Fort Collins Area Chamber of Commerce.

Those who supported 1041 regulations and an immediate moratorium included representatives of Save the Poudre, Sierra Club and the Fort Collins Audubon Society…

Council ultimately supported the narrowed scope of regulations, paired with the immediate moratorium, 6-1. Council member Shirley Peel was the opposing vote, citing the potential for unintended repercussions to development and utility projects.

While city staff said the narrowed 1041 regulations are unlikely to affect the NEWT III pipeline, they will likely impact the Northern Integrated Supply Project. NISP is a project going through the permitting process that would take water from the Poudre and South Platte Rivers for storage in two new reservoirs. NISP organizer Northern Water plans to put some components of NISP in city natural areas, a plan the city rejected during SPAR review. But SPAR review, again, is only advisory, so Northern Water’s governing board overrode the decision. Still, the moratorium means that Northern Water would be barred from beginning work on the components in city natural areas. And the project would likely be subject to 1041 review if the regulations come to fruition as council is currently envisioning.

More to come on that. In the meantime, we can expect a one-year moratorium as staff works on the city’s new 1041 regulations. Council will have the last word on those regulations and is planning a six-month check in…

Climate progress report

Fort Collins exceeded its 2020 climate goals to reduce community and municipal greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, according to preliminary estimates presented to council Tuesday.

The 2020 goals are a step along the way to the city’s goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% in 2030 and 100% in 2050. The goals apply to both municipal emissions and the community as a whole.

Fort Collins met its municipal benchmark for 2020 three years ahead of schedule, in 2017. As of 2020, it has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 44% of 2005 levels.

The city met its 2020 community goal with a 24% reduction in emissions, up from a 7% reduction in 2019. The improvements came mostly from the Roundhouse Renewable Energy Project, a new wind farm that drove a 10% reduction in emissions; reduced vehicle travel, which drove a 3% decrease; and a 2% reduction in industrial emissions. Another 2% in reduced emissions were due to weather and other unspecified factors. City staff said the travel reductions were related to the stay-at-home order. It’s not yet clear what exactly drove the reduction in industrial emissions, and final numbers are expected in early 2022.

The community’s per-capita residential emissions were down 41% in 2020 compared to 2005 levels, staff said.

Staff expect Fort Collins to reach a 26% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions for 2021, based on current forecasts.

To reach the 2030 communitywide goal, the city will need to enact critical strategies — increased renewable electricity adoption, transit reductions and universal composting — plus all the other strategies identified as “next moves” in the latest update to Fort Collins’ Our Climate Future Plan.

Representatives of Fort Collins Sustainability Group, a local organization that advocates for climate action, said in a statement that they were “very pleased” to see that estimated emission reductions had topped the 2020 goal…

The group is advocating for bigger climate investments in the 2022 budget, such as doubling funding for Fort Collins Utilities’ Energy Services programs and transportation-related offers that would reduce emissions. Energy Services includes incentive programs for energy efficiency and electrification, energy code development and related initiatives. It’s a particularly important focus area for greenhouse gas emission reductions because emissions from electricity and natural gas make up most of the community’s emissions (about two-thirds in 2019).

After receiving feedback from the community and council, staff added a few more climate items to the proposed 2022 budget expected to bring 2022 greenhouse gas reductions from 2.7% to 2.9%. Staff said they weren’t recommending the more substantial boost to Energy Services funding suggested by Fort Collins Sustainability Group because that will require a larger conversation about changes to the program’s portfolio and responses to local workforce capacity and supply chain challenges.