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Climate Change & Conservation eNews

Renewables

Many Solar Panels
Judy Anderson

Best practices in local review of community solar in rural areas

The Columbia Land Conservancy is hosting a series of webinars about community solar. Your area land trust could do this too. You can listen to the first webinar and download the slides, all of which are very informative.

Community solar projects have numerous novel features, compared to other types of development. During this session, Adriana Beltrani, an Environmental Planner with the firm Nelson, Pope, Voorhis will present what to look for in a complete site plan application package and explore ways for local planning boards to ensure that information about important resources and other local priorities are considered during the site design and review.

The session seeks to provide attendees with the tools to appropriately investigate, avoid, and mitigate potential impacts from solar projects…

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Solar Install
Taos Land Trust

Producing energy while protecting the land

Some of the most innovative land trusts are small and nimble. In 2017, Taos Land Trust was already focused on climate change and modeling how to make a difference. Today, other land trusts are realizing that compatible solar is going to need to be at the core of their conservation efforts — just like invasive species management.

“Part of our work as a community land trust is to help reframe the energy debate and build community energy resiliency.

…[W]e flipped the switch on our first solar energy array and as of today more than 50% of the energy we use to run Taos Land Trust is generated by our new solar panels. The 2kW photovoltaic array sitting on our downtown Taos property was installed through a generous grant from the PPC Solar Photovoltaic Donation Program. This is a huge move for us…”

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Cows
iStock

Farming to mitigate the effects of climate change

Land trusts are working to help their communities understand how farming can be part of the solution.

At Bailey and Sarah Williamson Preserve, farmers will be using regenerative methods to help mitigate and reverse the effects of climate change. Industrial-conventional agriculture models have focused on single-crop operations that have exceeded the natural carrying capacity of the land, ruining soil, water, habitat, and air quality. Regenerative methods seek to reverse some of this damage by rebuilding degraded soils, increasing biodiversity, and creating healthy, fair, and just food systems…

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Owls
Gorder Ellmers/Grassland Bird Trust

Argyle bird trust working with solar developer to conserve more land

With so many birds at risk due to climate change, finding ways for renewables to work with them is increasingly important.

“We’re excited about this collaboration and look forward to working with Eden on future mitigation projects,” said Grassland Bird Trust Executive Director Laurie LaFond. “We believe that renewable energy, when done right, can play an important role in restoring populations of grassland birds to sustainable levels.”

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Solar

Agrivoltaics. An economic lifeline for American farmers?

I thought you might appreciate this very thoughtful video about the role of "agrivoltaics" in water conservation, farm viability, and economic impact.

As natural systems become more stressed by climate change and the resulting disasters and impacts, natural climate solutions become more vulnerable.

Nature needs renewables — and our collective work to reduce energy consumption — to flourish.

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Cowboys
MALT

Running on renewable energy

Given that climate change, if left unchecked, will destroy much of the lands and waters we are working to conserve, conservation groups are switching to renewable energy sources as a moral and mission-centered move. It also can save them money.

Talking about how, and why, your land trust has transitioned to renewable energy, is important. Modeling this shift is a leadership move that will inspire others to do the same. Posting it on the land trust’s website, or the energy provider’s website, so folks can find out more about it, is smart:

MALT helps preserve the rich agricultural heritage of Marin County by protecting its clean water, clear air, and open space. Climate change threatens Marin’s farming way of life. We operate on 100% renewable energy from MCE because reducing fossil fuel pollution will help our cause in the long run. MALT is proud to join a community of businesses and organizations in Marin who choose to reduce our carbon impact through MCE’s Deep Green Energy Program.

MALT is also raising the profile about the importance of “Carbon Farming“— demonstrating how they are walking the walk to make a difference in a variety of ways. Check out that information HERE.

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Ev Charging
Mendocino Land Trust

EV Stations Complete

I've been reaching out to my Congressman to see if there is a way to tap federal and/or state funding for land trusts to install electric vehicle chargers at their conservation areas and local parks. That's something you might want to consider, too. Mendocino Land Trust worked on this very issue several years ago.

“Mendocino County is on the road to a cleaner and more sustainable future with the installation of 13 new electric vehicle charging stations along the coast and in Willits. Thanks to a $498,040 grant from the California Energy Commission awarded to Mendocino Land Trust in 2014, a string of new electric vehicle charging stations are up and running.”

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Solar Panels
Unsplash

Utility-scale solar energy can be a tool for conservation, economic development

While many land trusts are concerned about climate change, few are messaging about solar in a manner that promotes larger-scale developments that work towards wildlife habitat, water absorption, and farm viability. Natural climate solutions will falter if we don't slow down the use of fossil fuels, quickly. Here's an example of an organization taking a proactive approach.

To put it plainly, these proposed projects will not destroy the natural environment nor negatively impact the watershed if they are approved and built in line with Linn County’s existing ordinance for solar energy projects. In fact, with a diverse mix of native grasses and wildflowers cultivated on-site, these proposed projects can significantly improve water quality, reduce soil erosion, and provide habitat for wildlife and pollinators, going a long way to restore Iowa’s landscape.

Furthermore, by using wildlife-style fencing instead of traditional chain link fencing, these sites can be a home for upland nesting birds such as ring-necked pheasants, quail, and other grassland birds like the dickcissel…

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Ethan Winter TNC

AFT welcomes solar and conservation specialist

American Farmland Trust is gearing up to find creative solutions that increase agricultural viability and slow down climate change. This work includes finding opportunities to work with solar companies, communities, and farmers in the Northeast.

American Farmland Trust welcomes Ethan Winter as the Northeast Solar Specialist. In this role, Winter will work across regional and national programs to help set and implement AFTs strategy for solar energy generation and farmland conservation. Winter joins AFT with an extensive background in solar development throughout the Northeast.

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Tree Planting
Suncommon

Restoration and solar team up

Those I know who work in the solar field are doing so because they want to make a difference. Many times that includes slowing down climate change and enhancing wildlife or farm viability. How is your local or regional land conservation group building relationships with solar companies?

For over a year now, much of the SunCommon team has been working remotely, and all-staff gatherings have been suspended. But graced with good weather and increased access to vaccines amongst [their] staff, [they] paused operations for a day to give each other the opportunity to reconnect after a year apart, provide service to our community, and expand [their] mission impact by planting carbon-sequestering trees.

Check out the projects and organizations they worked with…

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