Photo courtesy Andrea Jehn Kennedy / www.andreajehnkennedy.com
Beautiful natural surroundings, abundant open space, and clean air and water help inspire Routt County business owners and employees to operate their companies as sustainably as possible. Sustainability is a value that permeates many areas of the community, as exemplified by elementary school green teams, Students for Sustainability at the college campus, and sustainability action plans at many local businesses.The Yampa Valley Sustainability Council is an active nonprofit organization with the motto of “inspiring our community for future generations.” YVSC hosts educational talks, films, seminars and events as well as hands-on projects such as the annual Community Recycle Drop-off Event. The council oversees or partners for the following educational or service initiatives:
- Energy FIT
- Green Building
- Spare the Air
- Sustainable Schools
- Talking Green
- Water Conservation and Quality
- Yampa Valley Recycles
- Zero Waste
The Routt County Environmental Health Department has long been a leader in the county in environmental issues ranging from air quality to recycling, from waste water to water quality issues. The department also oversees retail food service establishments in the county providing permitting, inspections and food service safety training.
Routt County also has a voluntary Green Building Program for residential construction and is active in analyzing greenhouse gas impacts.
The City of Steamboat Springs has a Sustainability Management Plan, which has been in place since 2006.
The Colorado Mountain College system offers a bachelor’s degree program in Sustainability Studies with a strong student enrollment in the program at the Steamboat Springs campus. Students in the program take both a sustainable business and sustainable economics course. The college professors establish links between the coursework and student service learning projects in the community.
The mission at Yampatika is to inspire environmental stewardship through education. The nonprofit group, established in 1992, develops environmental learning opportunities that serve the children and adults of northwest Colorado. Yampatika operates an Environmental Learning Center at the city-owned Legacy Ranch in Steamboat Springs.
Another helpful resource at the state level is the nonprofit Alliance for Sustainable Colorado, which works to advance sustainability through collaboration among nonprofits, business, government and education.