MANITOU SPRINGS– City Council approved a resolution creating an action plan to combat the city’s contributions to climate change Tuesday.

The resolution created a 17-step program to ween off of plastics and fossil fuels in the city, setting goals to be accomplished by 2021.

“We know that they’re quite ambitious goals and that sets us up for a lot of hard work, but it’s something that Manitou Springs is really excited to do,” said Climate Action Project Coordinator for Manitou Springs Aaron Schultz.

Schultz is in his third week on the job, brought in to organize the project to meet the resolution’s goals:

  • Protect Pollinators with Organic Land Management and expanding pollinator-friendly plants.
  • Establish a tree protection program that fits in the City’s wildfire management plan to rebuild the forests and urban tree canopy.
  • Develop a local food assessment and action plan to increase food security by the end of 2020.
  • Eliminate single-use plastic and polystyrene and limit litter by the end of 2020.
  • Establish a hazardous waste safe disposal program by the end of 2020.
  • Establish a program to audit and improve sustainability of city .=operations and facilities while creating measurable goals.
  • Adopt a “Green Business Program” to help businesses enhance water conservation, energy efficiency and waste reduction while recognizing businesses for their efforts by the end of 2021.
  • Adopt a “Green Resident Program” with similar goals.
  • Establish a program by the end of 2021 that will reduce the city’s emissions by 40 percent by the end of 2030.
  • Create a creek watch program by the end of 2021.
  • Establish a program educating people on the risks of air pollution and advocates for improving air quality by the end of 2021.
  • Adopt low impact development and permeable surface requirements for new construction by the end of 2022.
  • Reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions by finding and establishing a community/ municipal composting and green waste program by then end of 2025.
  • Adopt low-carbon green building standards for new construction by the end of 2027.
  • Increase green transportation methods for local streets and public transit to 40 percent by 2030.
  • Monitor and report progress on all fronts every 3 months.
  • Utilize staff to implement the goals.

As a start to adhering to the resolution, the City planted the first of 147 trees in rebuilding the tree canopy.

Manitou Springs Middle School students were on hand as a symbol of the generation who will feel the greater effects of climate change.

“I think a lot of people are thinking that it’s going to have to happen in the future and that it’s for future generations to deal with.” said Konrad Schlarbaum, the chair of the Green Cities Coalition, a regional non-profit,”We’re going to have the climate strike on Friday and a lot of youth are going to standup and advocate for something to be done now, not in the future.

A local demonstration of the Climate Strike will happen Friday, September 20 at 10 a.m. at Colorado Springs City Hall.

The 147 trees represent Manitou Springs’ 147 birthday this year. The remaining trees will be planted on October 12 for Arbor Day.

“We in a small community of Manitou Springs with 5,200 people, we can only do so much, but we really need to have a regional approach to this,” said Mayor Ken Jaray.

Jaray said he has gotten a commitment of Woodland Park’s leadership as well as Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers to meet the birthday-year number of trees commitment. He said Colorado Springs may even plant the number of its founding year—1,871.

“Sustainability efforts don’t happen in a vacuum where it’s just one particular city,” said Schlarbaum.

Students helped plant the first tree and also asked questions of the ways they’re addressing climate change.

“It’s important for students to ask those tough questions so we can make changes and prepare the community for them,” said Schultz.