Of Trees & Transportation: Fighting Climate Change

by Zachariah Ralph & Michael J. Caduto

At Sustainable Woodstock, we work hard to empower members of the community, and the Upper Valley, to take real steps toward solving some of the big issues that might otherwise feel overwhelming. With that in mind, here is a brief update on two of our ongoing initiatives aimed at helping to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change:

Forest Carbon Action Group (FCAG)

The FCAG meets on the third Monday each month. Between six to ten individuals usually attend from Hartford, Shrewsbury, Bridgewater, Hartland, Barnard, Pomfret and Woodstock. We work on recommendations to offer the Vermont Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation (VDFPR) as they update their forest management plan of Coolidge Forest East, with the goal of increasing carbon storage and sequestration.  The public comment period for the proposed new management plan will take place during the autumn of 2019.

We are also working with Professor Michael Cox and the students enrolled in his Dartmouth College Environmental Studies Class, ENVS 61, Governing the Environment. As part of their Social Impact Practicum for this course, students are helping the FCAG to conduct background research as the basis for the recommendations that we will ultimately offer for the VDFPR to consider when formulating their new management plan for Coolidge Forest East.

Ten students from this class are working directly with the FCAG to address four questions related to improved management plans. They will interview stakeholders and ultimately give a report with specific recommendations, and a summary of supporting research to back up those recommendations. When their research is completed, students will submit a final report in late May, at the end of Dartmouth’s current trimester.

At a recent meeting, the FCAG also decided to create a “scientific” poster to help educate and inform the public, and to promote our events. There is also some discussion about lobbying the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to include improved forest management plans as part of their carbon offset program. (See: www.rggi.org)

Sustainable Woodstock Energy and Transportation Group (SWEAT)

A report released by Vermont’s Department of Environmental Conservation in June of 2018, revealed that the state’s carbon emissions actually increased by 16 percent from 1990 to 2015. The primary culprits are vehicular exhaust, industrial emissions and increased energy use by drafty homes with inefficient heating systems. Considering the critical role that transportation plays in our use of energy, and its outsized impact on contributing to Vermont’s carbon emissions, our energy action group recently incorporated transportation into its mission.

On Thursday, May 16 at 4:30pm, we are hosting a Green Drinks event in coordination with Vital Communities and the Town of Hartford. This launch event will promote Go! Vermont’s new app, which offers a suite of tools for participating in a statewide carpooling and ridesharing program. Paige Heverly, Vital Community’s Energy and Transportation Project Coordinator, will present this program at Worthy Kitchen, 442 Woodstock Road, Woodstock, Vermont 05091. (For more information, see Go! Vermont’s website: www.connectingcommuters.org)

We also continue to work on the Weatherize Upper Valley program. Our energy audit consultant, Frans Van De Ven, has faced some unanticipated delays as he works to conduct and follow up with home energy audits, so we are coordinating with Efficiency Vermont to extend the deadline for this program in order to give Frans, and residents, more time to conduct home energy visits.

New subscribers are still being sought for the Rainbow Playschool Community Solar Array. To date, there have been requests for 143 kWh, with 40kWh having said they are not interested. We are still looking for more takers to ensure that we have enough subscribers to employ the full 150kWh of electricity that will be produced when the array goes into service

Sustainable Woodstock will also host another “Solar Showcase” on The Green during the 10th Annual Taste of Woodstock on Saturday, August 10, 2019. We will be working on an upcoming column recognizing all the work that the Town of Woodstock, and specifically Selectperson Jill Davies has done to support sustainability and energy efficiency.

As you can see from the community of individuals, organizations and institutions that Sustainable Woodstock partners with: It takes a village to fight climate change!

 

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DO JUST ONE THING: Think of one destination that you drive to in your car on a regular basis, and begin using a more sustainable way to get there, such as walking, bicycling or car-pooling.

 

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