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Carbon study puts Methow Valley on fast track for funding and results

Updated: Jan 28, 2022

Concrete plans, ready for state and federal funding. The entire 4th District can follow their lead. Figure by Resilient Methow.

  • Wildfires are devastating the 4th Congressional district

  • Carbon-neutrality is achievable

  • Historic federal and state funding is accelerating needed change

I had a chance to discuss the Methow Valley Climate Action Plan with Tom Jones. You can find it at

In 2019, the overwhelming trauma from repeated wildfires and mounting concern over global climate trends compelled the Methow Valley Citizens Council to initiate a community-based planning process. This led to better understandings of the impacts of climate change on the valley, the community’s contribution to the problem, and recommended solutions.

Photo by Linda Pastor

The planning team retained a climate consultant to perform a greenhouse gas inventory to better understand the primary sources of the CO2 emissions in the valley. It revealed that the Methow Valley community contributes to state and global emissions primarily through:

  • Transportation

  • Heating, cooling, and lighting buildings

  • Waste management

  • Consumption of goods and services

  • Land use practices

Photo by Jasmine Minbashian

In a standing-room-only November 2019 workshop, Dr. Amy Snover presented the latest predictions for climate change in the Methow Valley. Dr. Snover is Director of the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group.

500 community residents learned the climate-related impacts that were to be expected in decades to come. The primary impacts of climate change in the valley include drier, hotter summers — coupled with warmer, wetter winters.

Photo by Patricia Leigh

Methow Valley's per-person carbon emissions are quite low, less than 10 tons/year. By comparison, my Hong Kong apartment generated about 13 tons/year because of my air conditioning and computer. An air flight costs about 2 tons. In Wyoming, the per-person emissions were 104 tons/year in 2016.

The valley’s residents, businesses, organizations, and visitors can reduce greenhouse gases at the local level through individual and community actions. The community acts through infrastructure investments, policies, and programs that incorporate carbon reduction and/or carbon capture practices.

Photo by Stephen Mitchell

The goal of becoming carbon neutral is large and reaches across all aspects of community life in the Methow Valley:

  • Electrifying transportation systems and reducing miles traveled by increasing public transport, rideshare, biking, and walking

  • Using natural systems to sequester carbon through careful stewardship, land use, and agriculture

  • Optimizing the built environment and infrastructure around energy conservation, efficiency, and distributed energy sources. Prioritizing equity-oriented solutions

  • Reducing consumption and waste. Strengthening a conservation ethic. Promoting a sharing and reuse economy

Photo by Linda Pastor

Fortunately, the resources necessary for small rural communities to make needed changes are being provided by a combination of historic state and federal legislation.

Washington State's Wildfire Response and Forest Restoration Act, for example, provides $17.4M of new funding for communities to better manage their forests and associated wildfires, hire new firefighters, and use new technologies to restore forests. It includes funds for community resilience training and defensive homes.

Tom is a member of the Climate Action Implementation Hub. One of the roles of the Hub is to analyze state and federal climate legislation to identify grant and job opportunities for community members. This analysis, combined with Methow Valley's detailed climate plan, puts them in an ideal position for funding.

The valley's move towards electrification is being accelerated. EV charging stations will be installed. Grants will make vehicles, heat pumps, and solar panels more affordable. Buses will be electrified. Kids will ride healthier.

Photo by Stephen Mitchell

Congress recently passed the Infrastructure Investment Jobs Act-2021. It contains more than $80 billion to advance the clean energy transition and fight climate change."

Water usage and building permits are complicated. Like many communities, Methow Valley either manages growth and land use or runs out of water. They're looking at this closely, given that they're a popular, affordable cross country skiing and hiking destination.

Image by Cathy Davis

Restoration of critical ecosystems is also a priority. The Methow Beaver Project, for example, is transplanting beavers to the Methow River watershed to adapt to climate change and restore salmon habitat. The up-valley beavers are already having a huge impact and more water is flowing.

What the Methow Valley citizens have accomplished by working together, regardless of political affiliation, is a lesson for us all. Let’s take their lead and make every community in the 4th District a better place to live.

If climate and energy are important to you, please support our campaign with a donation, join us for a conversation about these topics, and vote!

Photo by Stephen Mitchell

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