Sustainability Council promotes Earth Hour in Steamboat |

Sustainability Council promotes Earth Hour in Steamboat

Jack Weinstein

— The Yampa Valley Sustain­ability Council hopes Steam­boat Springs will be a bigger player in this year's Earth Hour.

Earth Hour is a global initiative started in 2007 by the World Wildlife Federation to encourage everyone to turn off their lights for an hour on a day once a year to take a stand against climate change.

It began with efforts in Australia but made its way to the U.S. last year with major landmarks including Mount Rushmore, Times Square in New York City and the Golden Gate Bridge all going dark for an hour.

This year, Earth Hour is from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

This is Steamboat's second year participating, Sustain­ability Council member Andy Kennedy said.

"Part of our mission states — and a big part of it — is education and awareness," she said about other efforts to promote sustainability. "The big thing is we can't participate in Earth Day, which falls after the mountain closes (April 22) when nobody's in town."

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To participate in Earth Hour, Kennedy said the Sust­ain­ability Council has reached out to local businesses, organizations, schools and the city to promote the effort.

Steve Hoots, project and energy manager for the city's facilities department, said because Saturday is not a work day for the city of Steamboat Springs, employees were encouraged to make sure all lights, computers and other accessories were turned off before they left for the weekend.

He said the city considered a more extensive lights-out program.

"Because of the occupancy in the city, we really couldn't," he said. "Streetlights and things like that, we couldn't (turn off) because of safety. We didn't have much opportunity to turn off city lights because people rely on those to get around on streets and in parking lots."

Kennedy said Steamboat Springs High School's Eco Kids Club would recognize Earth Hour on Friday during lunch. She said the Sustainability Council also has worked with the Steamboat Springs Teen Council, which is comprised of students from the high school and The Lowell Whiteman School.

"Getting the kids involved was really important for the Sustainability Council because we think it trickles up to the parents," Kennedy said.

Teen Council member Shane McLean, a senior at Whiteman, spearheaded an effort to get them involved. She said the Teen Council could get involved in anything that interests them. Those efforts usually are environmental or benefit the community, McLean said.

She said the Teen Council has stepped up its efforts to promote Earth Hour from last year.

"Basically, we're trying to spread the word through e-mail, Facebook, posters and fliers," McLean said and added that next year they hope to do more.

Kennedy said some local restaurants will turn out their dining room lights in favor of candlelight for Earth Hour.

Those restaurants include Steamboat Smokehouse, Rex's American Grill & Bar, Mazzola's Italian Restaurant, Big House Burgers, Sevens Restaurant and 3 Saddles Bar and Grill in the Sheraton Steamboat Resort, and the on-mountain restaurants at Steamboat Ski Area.

Kennedy said the Sustain­ability Council hopes more people will participate in Earth Hour this year than last. She said the goal was just to let everyone know what's going on so if they want to participate, they can.

How to help

To participate in Earth Hour, simply turn out your lights from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday.

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