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Mountain Towns Come Together To Address Challenges Of Climate Change


Park City Municipal and The Community Foundation are holding a Mountain Town 2030 Net Zero Conference for three days this week. The headline for the conference says mountain communities are uniquely suited to influence building a more sustainable future for the planet.

Park City Environmental Sustainability Manager Luke Cartin says they started working on this conference a year ago realizing that mountain towns have common interests. The landscape, outdoor recreation and preserving an active lifestyle are some of the shared values. The businesses and non-profits that exist in mountain communities also align with these same values.

“You know the ski industry, the hospitality side that supports getting folks outdoors. When you look at how our towns are perceived through the eyes of business, it’s talking about and selling the outdoors. It’s not showing the inside of a hotel room but it’s saying get out and enjoy our beautiful location. And we also have robust non-profits that are really truly trying to make a town a community, from community foundations to sustainability groups to kind of social services. So, there’s that deep tie within us that has that tie to the outdoors. And that’s how we relate to the residents and guests that come here. Everyone shares that kind of passion for the outdoors and the environment.”

Wednesday and Thursday are scheduled with presentations covering climate change, business and social initiatives. All will be held at the Jim Santy Auditorium above the Library in the Carl Winter School on Park Avenue.

On Friday they’ll have more active tours and hikes with visits to a variety of services and projects throughout the city. 
They include field trips to learn about the electric bus fleet , affordable housing, newly bonded open space on Treasure Hill and soils restoration at the McPolin farm.

“There are some other folks that are really truly interested in one of the things that makes Park City unique is the amount of open space that our community has stepped up and said yes, this is important to us. Compared to a lot of these communities that about 80% of their lands are federally owned and there are these iconic open space pieces that are left that we want to figure out. So, it’s going to be a staff level discussion with these folks and again just get them outside. Go see, touch and feel rather than just get talked at the entire time.”

Cartin says they plan to track and measure the sustainability of the conference itself. Vail Resorts is providing all the food, which is vegetarian. They have a food waste system in place and are using recycled lanyards from past conferences.

“We have everything from understanding the carbon footprint of this piece as well and figuring out the best way to mitigate that as well. We’ve encouraged car-pooling. A lot of the groups are going to be out and about on transit and a few of them are going to be biking around as well. So, there are folks that are really, truly going t come here and try to live the way that we hope our community will be now or even in just a few years. To make it just as easy to get around without a vehicle.”

Cartin says no one should be surprised if they get riddled with questions or see groups of people wandering by foot or on bike around town. With 350 people from some 30 mountain communities, there may be a lot of like-minded folks on the streets, in the open spaces and enjoying the city’s hospitality.

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