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Climate Change & Conservation eNews

Renewables

Piglets
iStock

Farming collaborative plan looks to keep land accessible, open

Vermont Land Trust has long been an organization supporting farm viability as part of its farmland protection strategy. This is an interesting project that reflects climate change, economic viability, and conservation.

Under the land collaborative model, the property will not solely be devoted to agriculture; Sanford-Long’s animals will share land with a planned solar array…

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Solar Farm
Robin Lubbock/WBUR

Farms will harvest food and the sun, as Mass. pioneers ‘dual-use’ solar

Is your land trust thinking creatively about climate solutions and partnerships? Perhaps your land trust realizes that renewables need to work with land and water.

Paul Knowlton owns 300 acres of land in Grafton, and farms about 50. The farm has been in his family for five generation, ever since Knowlton’s great-great-grandfather settled in the Blackstone Valley in 1872.

These days Knowlton grows pumpkins, squash and corn. Up a gravel road, past the family cemetery, corn stalks are still standing from this year’s crop. “Considering the drought situation, we did fair,” Knowlton says.

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Solar Sheep
American Solar Grazing Association

Solar meets sheep (and bees, and more)

Is your land trust thinking creatively about climate solutions and partnerships? Perhaps your land trust realizes that renewables need to work with land and water. Scenic Hudson continues to demonstrate how they are an organization that is learning and helping to lead.

Often solar panels sit on former agricultural land, but aren’t what we’d otherwise think of as a farm.

Agrivoltaics aims to change that by hosting PV panels and agriculture on the exact same land. Often, livestock like sheep graze under the solar panels. Sometimes the projects include pollinator habitat as well, which can benefit biodiversity, honey production, or adjacent pollinator-dependent crops. And trials are being done growing shaded crops under raised panels, too…

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Screen Shot Webinar

Solar that supports farmers, soils, water

We are losing farms due to a lack of farm viability. Elevated solar, that allows for growing crops, grazing with dairy cows and horses, and protecting orchards and sensitive plants could become the norm (if we make it that way...). Check out this webinar.

While states and communities around the U.S. are ramping up renewable energy commitments and incentivizing solar development, many farms are struggling. There is also growing concern that solar development could displace active agricultural use on productive farmland, with impacts to farm renters, local economies, and regional food systems. Without an integrated approach, achieving clean energy goals may come at the loss of some of our most fertile and economically viable farmland to solar development.

American Farmland Trust seeks a more collaborative and sustainable path forward towards a clean energy transition that supports healthy soils, wholesome food, and vibrant farms…

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Monarch
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Climate Change Pilot Project

We can make sure that solar developments are installed and managed to benefit farm and ranch viability, soil health, wildlife habitat, and water management.

South Kingstown Land Trust was invited by the University of Rhode Island’s Coastal Resource Center (CRC) to participate in a pilot project to investigate how climate change could impact land trusts — whether impacts to our land holdings themselves or to our priorities for preservation.

For Rhode Island, the likely effects of climate change will include sea-level rise and increases in air and water temperature, precipitation, and storminess. The study was funded by the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council…

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Goat Solar
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The Nature Conservancy tool helps identify ideal solar farm sites in Georgia

We can make sure that solar developments are installed and managed to benefit farm and ranch viability, soil health, wildlife habitat, and water management.

They compared that information to maps of critical habitat, protected lands, and prime farmland. And they put their results into a free online tool.

It allows developers, natural resource agencies, and others to identify low-impact locations for new solar farms. And Gutierrez says the tool finds plenty of them…

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Birdeyeview
Encore

Whitcomb Farm Solar

Farmers can be part of the climate solution — and many already are. If you or your land trust works with farmers, you might consider how to amplify the positive change agriculture can be.

In conjunction with an easement from the Vermont Land Trust, the solar array will provide lease revenue to the farmers that will assist in keeping the farm in active agricultural use for generations to come.

Meg Armstrong, the owner of Witcomb Farm notes “We were thrilled with the outcome of our work with Encore on the siting of a solar array on our active dairy farm in Essex Junction, Vermont. Encore’s work resulted in an annual lease payment that provides us with the opportunity to improve our farmstead while preserving topsoil integrity. Farming has always involved land, sunlight, and water to produce value; we are pleased to be able to diversify our farming operations to include renewable electricity generation in addition to forage crops and dairy…”

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Solar Tnc
TNC

The Nature Conservancy goes carbon neutral at Uplands Farm

Talking about how your land trust is going carbon neutral, and how that's related to the mission and work of your land trust, is critical. Likewise, helping people understand how nature and farms need compatible renewables to survive and thrive, is critical for long-term conservation work.

The Nature Conservancy is pleased to announce its move toward 100% renewable energy at Uplands Farm Sanctuary, the 97-acre nature preserve that also serves as one of the organization’s Long Island offices.

The ambitious project, funded by the Green Mountain Energy Sun Club, includes rooftop solar, an electric vehicle charging station, and energy efficiency upgrades that will dramatically reduce Uplands Farm’s carbon footprint, making the preserve’s offices carbon-neutral on an annual basis. The upgrades are estimated to save more than 54 tons of carbon pollution, equivalent to the emissions from over 5,000 gallons of gasoline from gasoline-powered vehicles, each year…

The sustainable upgrades are part of the Conservancy’s continued efforts to tackle climate change in New York and around the world. The chronic flooding, stronger storms, and intense heat waves caused by climate change are already impacting communities statewide. The shift to renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, is key to climate stability. The Conservancy is striving to achieve a low-carbon future through broad-scale policy change at the state and federal levels while developing and modeling solutions locally, such as those at the Uplands Farm Sanctuary…

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Birds
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470-acre Cayuga lakefront land bought by state to become wildlife area, solar energy plant

Land trusts have an opportunity to work with climate-related projects to ensure there are multiple benefits.

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul announced a land purchasing agreement has been reached between the Finger Lakes Land Trust and New York State Electric & Gas Corp. for the 470-acre Bell Station.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Finger Lakes Land Trust will create a public wildlife management area on the lakeshore portion of the newly acquired property…

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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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