October 30, 2023

Getting to know the Collaborative – Geoff Blakeslee

Geoff Blakeslee has contributed more than two decades of service to the people and nature of the Yampa Valley. Geoff and his wife Betsy were the stewards and managers of The Nature Conservancy’s Carpenter Ranch outside of Hayden for 23 years before retiring, and were true leaders in the community bringing people, nature and agriculture together.

Geoff serves as one of four at-large community members of the CAP Collaborative Board, and he will be completing his term at the end of December. We thank him for his valued service and contributions, and look forward to his continued participation on the CAP Land Use Working Group.

Before departing, we wanted him to share some perspective on his time on the Board and why he encourages YOU to apply for his seat.

1) What is your role in the CAP Collaborative and how did you get involved?

I serve as one of four Community members on the CAP Board and have served as the chair of the Land Use Working Group.

The Routt County Climate Action Plan was developed over a period of two years.  I had watched in amazement as a group of local community members with the support of local governments throughout Routt County, spent countless hours formulating a practical approach to addressing the challenges of reducing greenhouse gas emissions locally.  I have believed for many years that climate change is the number one threat to our planet and that I should and can make a personal commitment to support finding solutions to this threat.  Throughout my career in land and water conservation, I have seen first hand, how changing climate conditions have caused stresses to plant and animal communities and water supplies. Serving on the CAP Board has provided me with an opportunity to influence how change can happen.

2) Why does the CAP matter? Why should Routt County residents care?

The CAP matters because it represents a practical road map for our community to take action in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.  The plan provides strategies and actions that if implemented fully, can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 35% by 2030 and by 74% by 2050.  County residents should care because these actions will change how our energy is produced, how our modes of transportation will change, how we handle waste, what land use practices will look like going into the future, and how these changes will affect our local and regional economy.

3) While implementation of all the proposed CAP recommendations will be necessary to meet our CAP carbon emission reduction goals, are there any recommendations in particular you feel are most urgent and impactful?

The CAP plan has identified residential and commercial buildings as one of the greatest contributors to GHG emissions locally.  With that in mind, I think the following recommendation is most urgent.

Energy Recommendation 6. CAP governments develop a strategic action plan that will meet the 2050 CAP energy efficiency and beneficial electrification (BE) goals for existing residential, commercial, and industrial buildings.

4) At the end of December you will be completing your term as a CAP Board Community member. We thank you for your valued contributions. What have you enjoyed the most about being a Board member and why would you encourage others to apply? 

What I’ve enjoyed the most has been the opportunity to work in a collaborative way with a diverse group of thoughtful, committed and talented individuals.  My engagement with the Board and Working Groups has been challenging and rewarding.

I would encourage interested community members to become familiar with the Climate Action Plan and the Working Group recommendations.  Being informed of the work that has been done will hopefully inspire others to apply for a Board position.  There is a need to keep up the momentum for implementing the plan.  At a minimum, one way to engage is to talk about climate change every chance we get.

5) Climate change is a complex and oftentimes overwhelming problem. What keeps you hopeful that we as individuals and a community can take meaningful action to limit the impacts of regional climate change? 

The fact that Routt County has made the commitment to address climate change through development of the Routt County Climate Action Plan gives me hope.  I know that not all residents of Routt County agree that our changing climate is an issue to be concerned with.  We can respect these opinions while continuing to address the facts presented by science.  I am hopeful that our commitment will remain strong, and the benefits of our actions now will apply to all.