Community Agriculture Alliance: 2010 a sustainable year

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January is a time to take stock of the past year and look forward. In 2010, the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council not only has helped preserve what makes Steamboat special, but the organization also has played a key role in positioning Steamboat Springs as a sustainable community in an increasingly competitive resort marketplace. Some highlights of 2010:

■ Zero Waste Initiative: YVSC and our contingent of more than 50 volunteers helped 23 community events take away their trash cans, including the entire lineup of the Steamboat Springs Free Summer Concert Series, fundraisers, races, bike rallies, movies and more. YVSC’s efforts are leading to quantifiable changes in the way Steamboat does events. In summer 2010, each free concert generated one bag of trash, compared with 50 bags per event in 2009. In line with YVSC’s mission of collaboration, these impressive results wouldn’t have been possible without our generous Zero Waste sponsors: Waste Management, Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., the Roberts Family Fund, Twin Enviro Services, Routt County and the city of Steamboat Springs.

■ Community Recycling Drop-Off: At the inaugural drop-off event in November, more than 400 residents recycled 50 cubic yards of electronics, 250 pairs of skis, 50 bikes, 1,800 wine corks and 45 cubic yards of scrap metal, along with building materials, yard waste, traditional recyclables and more.

■ ReTree Colorado: In an effort to mitigate the effects of the mountain pine beetle epidemic, more than 300 volunteers planted 12,000 trees in just one June day at sites across Routt County.

■ Outreach and education: Through programs such as Talking Green, Green Building and Youth Education, special events, and the collaborative Eco-Guide, YVSC is educating community members and visitors about a range of sustainability-related topics and fostering a stronger sense of environmental stewardship in people of all ages.

Steamboat Springs has tremendous momentum on a range of environmental issues. YVSC is looking forward to expanding our programs to respond to the heightened awareness of sustainability in the community. Our Zero Waste Initiative in particular is expected to grow substantially in 2011 to meet the demand from local and national events. YVSC also is taking the lead role on the 2011 ReTree event. We’ll continue to collaborate with other groups to implement sustainability efforts in local schools, as well as sustainability-themed events all year.

If one of your New Year’s resolutions is to reduce your impact on the environment, YVSC is a great place to start. Visit our website, www.yvsc.org, to learn more.

Anne Mudgett is the coordinator for the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council.

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