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Happy New Year!
by Mila Dunbar-Irwin, Moab City Sustainability Director.

Goodbye, 2021! I, for one, am glad to put another year of public health uncertainty and chaos behind me. Looking back at the last eight months, the Sustainability Department has accomplished a lot. We wrote our next 5-year Water Conservation Plan, which was adopted on Dec. 14, 2021, and I was elected as the newest member of the Utah Water Conservation Forum Board of Directors because of it. We were awarded a $25,000 technical assistance grant from the WaterNow Alliance with whom we’re working to develop robust new water-wise landscaping rules for new development and a detailed guide for current residents. We got our solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations repaired and running again, increasing City solar production by 30%. We also hosted a wonderful Climate Week, reaching over 1,000 people in collaboration with USU Extension and Utah Climate Action Network – you can still visit the beaver at the MARC with his river of climate-commitment rocks! We also kicked off the Sustainability Action Plan process, convening Technical Advisory Groups and moving forward on a new draft plan. Lastly, we picked up work on the International Dark Sky Community application and look forward to receiving the official designation soon. Finally, I’ve maintained monthly columns here and in the Happenings. Tell me if you have topics you’d like to see addressed!

There is much to look forward to in 2022! I’m so excited to get this year going. On Jan. 18, I’ll be welcoming our new AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer, Richard Lory, who will be helping implement the Dark Skies, water conservation, and educational initiatives in 2022, as well as supporting the department in greenhouse gas inventory reporting and getting the Sustainability Plan adopted. We’ll kick off the year with a City-wide Dark Sky lighting compliance inventory, and a City Council/Planning Commission Water Conservation Workshop to discuss implementation of the Water Conservation Plan, new landscaping regulations, and integration of green infrastructure into City streets. After that, the Community Visioning process begins. Sustainability will be an integral part, and we aim to have a Sustainability Plan and subject-area Action Plans adopted by fall.

Other measures in the works for 2022 include streetlight conversion to Dark Skies compliant LED lights, continuing participation in the Community Renewable Energy Agency, moving towards 100% renewable energy by 2030, creating public art collaborations with the MARC, serving on the board of directors for the Utah Water Conservation Forum (a state-led initiative), helping residents become compliant with Dark Skies code, and continuing work on City Hall sustainability in energy conservation, water conservation, active transportation, and landscaping. We will also be working closely with the City Parks, Recreation and Trails Department to increase care for and planting of trees, and the potential development of a new small public park – stay tuned for details in 2022!

Please get in touch with any ideas, questions, or comments – my door is always open!

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