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Sheep On A Solar Wagon
Screenshot Mrs. Green's World

Mrs. Green is happy…

This is the sort of thing your land trust could share—and talk about how it could (or is) happening in your state. Land trusts can partner with energy companies and local farmers/ranchers to ensure solar installations are farm-friendly. Renewable energy goals at the state level are great—but only if they are implemented wisely.

A flock of sheep chews away the weeds that grow underneath one of Tucson Electric Power’s (TEP) solar arrays instead of lawnmowers, spray, or weed trimmers, demonstrating one way TEP supports eco-friendly practices.

“To make sure our large solar array gets plenty of sun, we can’t let the weeds grow too high. That’s where the sheep come in,” said Ericca Suarez, a Technical Specialist in Renewable Energy. “It really is more sustainable to use the sheep.” Rancher Rusty Cocke manages the herd to keep the panels productive while preventing damage to the 1,200-acre site.

Learn more about the programs, sustainable practices and powerful partnerships fostered by Tucson Electric Power in the Tucson Electric Power Podcast Series.

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Solar Panels And Field Birds Eye View
Tim Gruber for the Wall Street Journal

Struggling Farmers See Bright Spot in Solar

“U.S. farmers are embracing an alternative means of turning sunlight into revenue during a sharp downturn in crop prices: solar power.

Solar panels are being installed across the Farm Belt for personal and external use on land where growers are struggling to make ends meet. The tit-for-tat tariffs applied by the U.S. and China to each other’s goods have cut demand for American crops. Futures prices for corn, soybeans and wheat are all trading around their lowest levels since 2010. Making matters worse, record spring rainfall…”

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Solar Panel Installer In Hard Hat

U.S. Solar Market Insight

“The U.S. installed 13.3 gigawatts (GW) of solar PV capacity in 2019 to reach 77.7 GW of total installed capacity, enough to power 14.5 million American homes. Solar accounted for 40% of all new electric generating capacity added to the grid in 2019 – more than any other energy source and the highest share in the industry’s history…”

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Solar Panels In Early Spring
Judy Anderson

What businesses [including land trusts] should know about the evolution of rural solar

Solar projects certainly are growing rapidly throughout the United States, with total installed capacity just shy of 70 gigawatts and a contracted pipeline of 27.9 GW, according to SEIA. A recent Wall Street Journal analysis of EIA data reported that solar projects occupied 258,000 acres in 2018, while NREL estimates that solar will occupy 3 million acres by 2030.

That may be a small fraction of the nearly 900 million acres of farmland in the United States (PDF), but it’s enough to make agricultural communities apprehensive about the advance of solar onto previously pastoral land. While landowning farmers are grateful for the steady income that comes from leasing to solar projects, others in rural areas—including many state agricultural departments—are still grappling with what the growth of solar will mean for their concept of rural land and role as agricultural boosters…

And with wind and solar cropping up in more rural communities, the bar is being set higher. “The future for renewable energy has to include a sustainable land use component,” Hoosier Energy’s Cisney said. In leveraging new partnerships and co-location opportunities among developers, farmers and local communities, rural America has the potential to assume a more active leadership role in cooperatively advancing the clean energy transition…

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Church Near Kinderhook
Judy Anderson

Solar light of the world: Evangelicals launch global clean energy campaign

Solar panels could be coming soon to a church near you. Through a campaign called Project 20.’25, the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) has set out to get 20 percent of its members to convert fully to clean energy by 2025.

This fall, the global network announced its partnership with Smart Roofs Solar Inc. Together they will help universities, health care facilities, and churches looking to adopt clean power, including offering guidance for local suppliers and providing financing options.

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NREL and Hyperion Systems LLC

Agrivoltaics: Solar panels on farms could be a win-win

With more and more states realizing we are facing a climate crisis, the goal of becoming carbon neutral is picking up speed. Yet those renewables need to go somewhere. Land trusts can help communities understand how solar can be very compatible with agriculture if planned—and implemented—well. Personally, I think we need to move to "elevated" solar for a large portion of solar on agricultural lands. Here's an article to help you envision that. There is growing research and realization that this could help farmers economically and also enhance productivity and soil health.

The solar panels in the fields at the University of Massachusetts Crop Research and Education Center don’t look like what most of us have come to expect. Instead of hunkering close to the earth, they’re mounted seven feet off the ground, with ample room for farmers or cows to wander underneath.

Panels are separated by two and three-foot gaps, instead of clustering tightly together. Light streams through these spaces and, underneath, rows of leafy kale and Brussels sprouts replace the typical bare earth or grass…

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Elder Female Hiker
Judy Anderson

Lifestyle changes aren’t enough to save the planet. Here’s what could.

Your local land trust could share articles like this and help people understand how local, state, and national policies are important. Individual action is important so we don't just shut down, but we need to come together and inspire greater change, too.

There is a long history of industry-funded “deflection campaigns” aimed to divert attention from big polluters and place the burden on individuals. Individual action is important and something we should all champion.

But appearing to force Americans to give up meat, or travel, or other things central to the lifestyle they’ve chosen to live is politically dangerous: it plays right into the hands of climate change deniers whose strategy tends to be to portray climate champions as freedom-hating totalitarians.

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Footbridge In The Woods
Mass Audubon article

The role of land conservation in fighting climate change

In the coming year, your land trust can help people connect the dots to what they love and how climate change puts it at risk. You then want to help them see solutions. Often these will be natural climate solutions (estimated at 21% of the needed response—if we act fast), including personal actions, as well as policies for energy conservation and renewables.

At Mass Audubon, [their] land conservation strategy is directly linked to climate change mitigation and adaptation. As the largest private land owner in Massachusetts with more than 38,000 acres protected, [they] know how critical land conservation and effective land management is in the age of climate change.

[Their] recent entry in the California Air Resources Board (CARB) carbon offset market ensures that 10,000 acres of forested land will be protected for the next 100 years, ensuring the carbon stored in this critical landscape remains there…

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River Valley View
Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy article

Partnering with a local city to sell carbon credits

Partnering with municipalities may be one way your local land trust can make a significant impact. It doesn't have to be the sale of carbon credits--it could be assisting with grants, transitioning to renewables, and/or energy efficiency.

Located in New York State, Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy is working to slow down climate change in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and the City of Albany.

The Albany Water Board will receive funding from the sale of carbon credits. The Nature Conservancy expects this revenue to surpass one million dollars over the next ten years, which the Water Board will direct toward the implementation of the Sustainable Forest Management Plan, watershed management, and Water Board priorities.

As outlined in the Plan, the Albany Water Board has entered into a Conservation Easement with the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy…

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The Government's First Ever National Target To Reduce Food Waste Will Encourage Farmers To Donate More Of Their Imperfect Produce To The Hungry

It’s Time To Get Serious About Reducing Food Waste, Feds Say

Word that Americans throw away about one-third of our available food has been getting around.

Now there’s an official goal aimed at reducing that waste.

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency — along with many private-sector and food-bank partners — announced the first ever national target for food waste.

“[We’re] basically challenging the country to reduce food waste by 50 percent by the year 2030,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tells The Salt…

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