November 10, 2022–DELTA COUNTY, CO – Today, Citizens for a Healthy Community (CHC) released A Climate Action Plan for Delta County: Moving From Crisis To Comeback (“Climate Action Plan”) that recommends a 54% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to combat the extreme warming and intensifying drought that Delta County has been experiencing.
The Climate Action Plan proposes reductions in pollution from the highest emissions sectors in the County based on the 2019 Delta County Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory—Electricity Generation, Transportation, Fossil Fuel Extraction, and Buildings.
While the County has acknowledged that our climate is changing, the County Commissioners do not believe it has anything to do with human activities or emissions from fossil-fuel production despite resounding agreement from the scientific community. In the face of intensifying drought, higher temperatures, impacts on agriculture, and traditional livelihoods that rely on water, no County climate action has been taken. This Climate Action Plan is the result of concerned citizens and community-driven climate action planning that started with the first comprehensive energy survey in the North Fork Valley, and the first County Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory. These community-driven efforts were made possible in part with funding from the West Elk Community Fund.
To prevent or reduce further negative impacts to the natural resources upon which the County depends and public health and safety, the Climate Action Plan recommends deep reductions to achieve a target carbon sequestration from tree cover and soil of -52% for and a net 54% decrease in emissions. Sector specific reductions include 15% in Electricity Generation, 8% in Transportation, 80% in Oil and Gas, 50% in Abandoned Coal Mine Methane Waste, and 34% in Buildings (from Delta County’s 2019 baseline GHG emissions inventory).
“Delta County has a vision in its Master Plan of protecting agriculture and water supplies and being a leader in protecting clean air and water to protect community health, safety, and welfare for present and future generations. It cannot achieve that vision without acknowledging the impacts of a changing climate on the County, and adopting a climate action plan. We are giving the commissioners the tools; now we urge them to use them” said Natasha Léger, Executive Director, of Citizens for a Healthy Community.
As owners of The Delta Elevator feed mill in Delta, David and Michelle Livingston are deeply engrained in Delta County’s agricultural cycle and economy. They said “the climate crisis is here– temperatures are rising and the increase in the last few years is alarming. The recently completed Climate Action Plan reaffirms the urgency of reducing climate change impacts. It means everything to our customers’ continued ability to grow crops, raise livestock and even maintain their property values if we don’t act. We see more farmers embracing solar and regenerative practices. The local ag community is adapting, but it needs to embrace a coordinated and leadership role in reversing local warming.”
“Farming today is harder than ever for a variety of reasons, and especially due to the unpredictable impacts of a changing climate” said Mark Waltermire, Valley Organic Growers Association (VOGA) Board Member. “VOGA members recognize that they have a role in addressing climate change. Farmers can do their part, sequestering carbon in the soil and adapting growing practices to reflect a hotter, drier and more variable climate. VOGA asks the County Commissioners to also do their part by adopting this Climate Action Plan, helping all of us strengthen and preserve our agricultural heritage.”
Tony Prendergast owns Sunshine Beef in Crawford. He said “When old-timers say ‘I’ve never seen that ditch go dry before’ you know the climate is changing and it is affecting agriculture and that is the reality on my cattle ranch. Change always brings challenges and opportunities. County leadership can lead by pursuing the opportunities laid out in this climate action plan to make us more energy resilient, economically efficient, and agriculturally innovative.”
Since 2020 the Colorado Farm & Food Alliance has been compiling detailed data on the climate emergency hitting our region, and will release a full report on its findings later this fall. Pete Kolbenschlag, Director of Colorado Farm & Food Alliance stated, “The climate emergency is here now, and putting western Colorado in jeopardy. Climate action takes leadership at every level – from the White House and Congress to the Delta County commission. It’s up to us to demand it.”
“The West Elk Community Fund is pleased to support this local effort to provide scientific data to inform planning efforts that can impact our quality of life now and for future generations. We are grateful to CHC for their forward-thinking about ways to protect the lands that we all love” said Elaine Brett, Founding Member, West Elk Community Fund.
Citizens for a Healthy Community is a nonprofit organization, based in Paonia, CO, dedicated to protecting the air, water and foodsheds of the Delta County region from the impacts of oil and gas development and paving the path to a clean and renewable energy future.
The mission of the Colorado Farm & Food Alliance is to educate about the importance of Colorado’s agricultural land legacy, to foster equitable and secure food systems, and to provide a platform for leadership development and community engagement in support of sustainable agriculture, food justice, climate action, and a resilient future for the Gunnison River watershed and beyond.
Valley Organic Growers Association (VOGA) is a nonprofit organization based in the North Fork Valley. VOGA’s mission is to promote local sustainable agriculture by supporting and educating producers and consumers.
West Elk Community Fund (WECF) is a charitable investment account to benefit the people of Paonia, Crawford, Hotchkiss and the surrounding region. Community-minded donors can make contributions of any size. Funds are used to support local nonprofit organizations and improvement projects through a competitive grants application process.