LARIMER COUNTY ENVIRONMENTAL AND SCIENCE ADVISORY BOARD (ESAB)

 MEETING MINUTES

 February 13th, 2018

 

 

Members In Attendance:

Jane Abels

Richard Alper

Daniel Beveridge

Corey Broeckling

Richard Conant

Jim Gerek

Michael Jones

Kimberly Karish

Evelyn King

David Lehman

Matt Tobler

Guests

Camille Stevens-Rumann, Assistant professor, Warner College of Natural Resources, Colorado State University

 

Commissioner

 

 

Staff

Shelley Bayard de Volo, Environmental Coordinator, Engineering

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meeting Start:  6:00 PM

 

Amendments or Additions to the Agenda:

Matt Tobler will provide an update on Climate Wise Fort Collins

 

Introduction of Members and Guests:

All members and guests introduced themselves. 

 

Citizen Comments:

None.

 

Discussion Items:

Forest Health and Climate Change – The influence of climate change on tree regeneration following fires across the Rocky Mountains

Camille Stevens-Rumann presented on post-disturbance recovery of forests in the Rocky Mountains.  Her research results showed that, depending on a number of factors, variation exists in regeneration success of tree seedlings in disturbed landscapes.  For example, slope aspect can be important to seedling establishment, especially in the hot and dry climates of the southern Rockies. Regeneration of post-disturbance forests also depends on the number and spatial distribution of living seed-trees remaining. 

 

Some take away messages from Camille’s talk included re-thinking post-disturbance forest restoration in terms of where seedling trees can establish and survive. Regions that today support ponderosa pine and dry mixed-conifer forests may not support those species in a post-fire environment characterized by hotter and drier climates. This fact should influence the planning of post-fire recovery efforts. As well, re-planting trees in areas that are now subject to a higher frequency of fire may not be the best use of resources.

 

Some questions from the audience included how can Camille’s research inform pre-fire management? Camille responded by saying if forests are managed for spatial heterogeneity of trees, then fires will burn with less intensity.  When forests burn with less intensity, tree mortality is lower and soils are less subject to sterilization. Forests can be managed for spatial heterogeneity through mechanical thinning, as well as prescribed fire.

 

Another question concerned climate change, and how can Camille’s research be taken into consideration when there are those that do not believe climate change is real or something to worry about. Camille responded by noting that her research is not predictive. Rather, her research shows that with the warmer climate over the last 17 years, there have already been real impacts. Whether you believe in climate change are not, the reality is we have higher tree densities and less resilient forests. We need to manage for that situation and we need to manage smarter by taking into consideration the very real factors that influence forest regeneration. Trees won’t necessarily grow in areas where they once were, so we need to ask ourselves whether we should try to re-establish forests where current climate conditions won’t support them.

 

Approval of Minutes:

Jim Gerek moved to approve the January minutes, as amended, and Kimberly Karish seconded that motion. The amended January minutes were approved by acclamation.  

 

Updates: 

  

ClimateWise and Climate Adaptation

Matt Tobler explained the City of Fort Collins’ ClimateWise program. The City of Fort Collins has a goal to be carbon neutral by 2050. Fort Collins committed to reducing its own carbon footprint by utilizing more energy efficient and water reducing technologies. But they also recognized that to achieve the 2050 goal, they would also need to work with the City’s business community. 

 

The Climate Wise program is voluntary and helps businesses become energy and water efficient, which saves them money. There are six categories where businesses can make accomplishments – waste reduction, transportation, social responsibility, energy, water use, and workwise programs. Businesses achieve badges for making accomplishments in each of the categories and achieve silver, gold or platinum status. Matt reported the Program’s 2016 accomplishment metrics, and the Board inquired as to how those metrics fit with those produced by the city as a whole.  For example, members of the Climate Wise program reduced their CO2 production by 53K metric tons, but what percent of the City’s total CO2 production is that? 

 

The Board agreed that it should learn how green practices/energy efficiency fits in with the County’s priorities.  They also questioned what the ClimateWise program costs the City of Fort Collins.  Kimberly noted she would look into that and provide a report at the March meeting.  The Board also learned from the City’s ClimateWise web page that the County is still listed as a member – with platinum status since 2007.  The County once had a sustainability/green practices person on staff, Stacey Baumgarn, who is now the Campus Energy Coordinator at Colorado State University.  The Board agreed they would like to see if he could come talk about what he does at CSU and what he did at the County. Lastly, the Board thought that one benefit to the County for being a ClimateWise participant might be to acquire grants for funding energy and water efficiency programs in the County.

For info on the program see:  https://www.fcgov.com/climatewise/

 

Matt briefly explained the 2015 Colorado Local Resilience Project, where state and local governments can improve their resiliency to climate related risks (e.g., fire, floods, health-threatening heat waves).  The City of Fort Collins participated in the project, and one outcome was their Environmental Service’s Strategic Plan ( https://www.fcgov.com/climateadaptation/ ).  It’s not clear whether Larimer County was involved.

 

Wasteshed

Jim Gerek presented a summary of the solid waste planning process to date.  He summarized the outcomes of the five stakeholder meetings, infrastructure options and the sustainable return on investment.  The cost-benefit analysis is based on the triple bottom line, which includes aspects of the environment, economics and social benefits/impacts. All analysis has thus far been limited to the selection of a single option, but now the process will evaluate using a combination of options – a comprehensive solid waste system.  The next stakeholder meeting will include discussions of Sustainable Return on Investment (SROI) results of blended infrastructure options and recommended governmental options for each of the final infrastructure/solid waste facilities.

 

Environmental Stewardship Awards

Shelley Bayard de Volo briefly explained the Environmental Stewardship Awards program for those who had not yet participated.  She informed the Board that they would be selecting a committee to go over the award nominations at the next meeting.  She urged ESAB members to help publicize the nomination process if an effort to get good applicants.

 

Update Meeting with Commissioner Steve Johnson

Richard Alper and Jim Gerek summarized their recent meeting with Steve Johnson.  Some outcomes from that meeting included the agreement that the ESAB chair would provide periodic updates to the BCC on the Board’s current topics.  Updates can take place via an Administrative Matters meeting. 

 

There was also discussion of whether the ESAB would be reviewing the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Northern Integrated Supply Project.  Steve noted that the BCC would probably not be providing public comments, nor passing on comments, because portions of the project will come before them for approval during the County’s 1041 permitting process.  However, Steve noted that it would be good for the ESAB to know what the outcomes of the FEIS were and how they may impact the County. 

 

Another topic Steve thought might be important for the ESAB to learn about was the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) and the use of parasitic wasps to control EAB larvae.  He suggested the ESAB hear from Dave Lentz, (the County Forester), and Casey Cisneros (Natural Resources) on the matter. Steve also felt it might be good for the ESAB to hear from the watershed coalitions to learn about what they are doing in the County.  Lastly, Steve wanted to know how the year-end Board Appreciation Event could be improved to gain better attendance, and make it more enjoyable.  Richard and Jim both agreed they valued the event, but loud entertainment made it hard to carry on conversations with other attendees. They recommended having some kind of activity that still allowed for networking.  Steve noted that they have considered hosting a “how to be an effective advisory board” workshop, and maybe that could be included in the appreciation event.

 

ESAB Issue Index:

The Issue Index will be updated for the information presented tonight.

 

Next Meeting Draft Agenda:

The next meeting will be held March 13th, 2018.  Discussion items include a presentation by Brad Decker, Platte River Power Authority, on their Net Zero Carbon Study. 

 

Adjourn:

The meeting ended at 8:35 PM