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Ag Solar
Judy Anderson

Farmland preservationists, solar developers to build green energy arrays

The conservation community is realizing that solar, when designed to work with agriculture, can help keep farmers on the land, keep land in production, and increase soil health and water management. But we have to demand that this type of solar happens...

An estimated 750,000 acres of farmland in the U.S. is lost each year and “solar development if done right could potentially help” save some of that farmland, said John Piotti, president and CEO of American Farmland Trust, a nonprofit organization that works to keep farmland in production.

Earlier this week, Piotti said during a webcast meeting that his group would work with two private firms, Edelen Renewables and Arcadia Solar to develop “agrivoltaic” community solar farms in a number of states including New York…

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Judy Anderson

Carbon program

Communicating how carbon offsets provide added value is increasingly important to build public trust.

Downeast Lakes Land Trust began evaluating its potential to participate in the carbon market in 2009, and entered a partnership with Finite Carbon in 2010. Finite Carbon Corporation is a forest carbon development company that partners with landowners to create and monetize carbon offsets.

On July 2, 2010, Downeast Lakes Land Trust listed the 19,118-acre project with the Climate Action Reserve (CAR) as an improved forest management project. Improved forest management projects maintain or increase forest carbon stocks above the level expected under typical commercial forest management…

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Rooftop Solar

Solar workshop series

Land trusts are realizing that transitioning to solar in a manner that is compatible with agriculture, structures, and disturbed land, is part of their conservation work. They don't have to be experts. Rather, they can tap into other organizations and leaders, and run or sponsor programs — like this land trust has done.

While this workshop is over, you can get a sense of what they are helping to amplify. The following is from their announcement:

Solar workshop series comes to southern Maryland: If you’re interested in using solar electricity to power your home, farm, or business, then please join an upcoming session of the University of Maryland’s “Solar Workshop Series.”

University of Maryland Extension Specialists and industry representatives will discuss the opportunities, challenges, and practical applications for using solar power. Each workshop will address important factors that will help you decide if solar is right for you and how you can install a solar electric system that meets your needs…
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Saving Our Swamps [Letter in the New Yorker Magazine]

Taking the time to reinforce ideas in the public realm is important if we are going to change people's perceptions of climate solutions. It's not easy getting published. Often you have to respond quickly, which means paying attention to what's going on around you and reserving time to be nimble.

Here you will find a short letter submitted by the land trust’s executive director, under the heading “Letters respond to Annie Proulx’s piece about swamps” (and beavers as part of the climate solution):

The dewatering of North America that Proulx describes was underway well before the nineteenth century, when westward expansionists began cutting down forests and farmers began draining and tilling fields. By the time those people were “reclaiming” land for their use, fur traders had been wreaking havoc on our wetlands for almost two hundred years, through the commodification of beavers…

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Judy Anderson

Passage of historic Inflation Reduction Act bill supports land trust work

Research clarifies that people need to hear from those they trust. That's why it's important to talk — and write — about how climate funding will help enhance and improve peoples' lives, close to home.

The Inflation Reduction Act is landmark climate legislation that has the potential to reduce U.S. emissions by 40% by 2030, helping to reduce carbon in our atmosphere and buffering human and natural communities from the worst effects of climate change.

The IRA will fund critical Farm Bill conservation programs: land trusts and the landowners they work with will have access to an additional $1.4 billion for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program to be allocated across four years, and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program will be increased by $4.95 billion during that period.

The Conservation Stewardship Program ($3.25 billion) and Environmental Quality Incentives Program ($8.45 billion) will also receive huge investments, and there is $1 billion in technical assistance for landowners who use these programs to reduce climate-related emissions…

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Species Migration
Emma Jacobs for NPR

Foresters hope ‘assisted migration’ will preserve landscapes as the climate changes

There's a shift in thinking about assisted migration (what I call "species jumping") given the increased pace of climate change. While many species won't survive, some may have a better chance if humans provide assistance.

“Thinking about actively moving species around is a little, well a lot uncomfortable for us,” acknowledges Abe Miller-Rushing, the science coordinator for Acadia National Park in Maine. “What might be the kind of unintended consequences? What diseases might we unintentionally move around if we move species around?”

He says, historically, the Parks Service has preferred hands-off management and modeled restorations on past conditions. In Acadia though, he noted, not intervening as warming takes place could mean the park’s iconic evergreen forests get replaced by shrubland, dominated by invasive bushes…

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Extreme Heat
Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images

How is the jet stream connected to simultaneous heat waves across the globe?

Check out the graphics. It's helpful to understand what's going on.

“As often happens in the atmosphere, it is connected: if we see an extreme event in one place, it can be connected to extreme events in another,” said Stephen Belcher, chief scientist at the U.K. Met Office. “The Met Office forecasters are looking very, very closely at this wavenumber 5 pattern to see how long it persists,” he added…

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Elevated Solar
Hyperion Systems, LLC

Agrivoltaics looks at farming around/among solar panels

The new Inflation Reduction Act bill makes it more economically feasible for innovative solar that works WITH farming, rather than against it. However, it means we have to change the narrative and stop saying to keep solar off good farmland and instead insist that solar on farmland supports short-term and long-term farm viability.

Double cropping solar power and organic dairy production works successfully here, but the concept – called agrivoltaics – is still very new.

Agrivoltaics is a new umbrella term defined as any farming practices on the land supporting solar power.

Around the world, innovators are looking for ways that solar panels and agriculture can benefit from the other. Flowers, pollinator plants, alfalfa, grass, vegetables and greens, and fruits and berries are some of the potential crops that people are planting in conjunction with solar panels…

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Under The Sea

Study shows 90% of marine species at risk of extinction in 78 years if greenhouse gas emissions are not curbed

Many conservation groups and people are focused on land-based conservation work, yet the health of the oceans will have far-reaching impacts on land-based communities and wildlife, as well as our weather patterns.

Greenhouse gas emissions impact the world’s climate in two ways. They raise the temperature of the atmosphere (and by extension, Earth’s surfaces and bodies of water) by holding in heat, and in the case of CO2 emissions, they make water more acidic, like carbonated soft drinks…

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Canal Solar
Solar AquaGrid

How installing solar canopies over canals can help California fight drought

While installing solar over canals costs more, the multiple benefits make it clear that this could be an important part of the climate solution — as well as helping to reduce climate impacts. The same can be said for elevated solar that would help farmers stay on the land, improve soil health, and increase farm diversity.

A first-in-the-nation project to determine whether covering sections of canals with solar panels can help California reach its renewable energy goals is gearing up to break ground early next year…

Researchers from the University of California, Merced determined that covering the 4,000 miles of California’s open canals with solar panels could save upward of 63 billion gallons of water each year, the residential water needs of about 2 million people, or enough to irrigate about 50,000 acres of farmland…

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