Innovative Pilot Project Seeks to Grow a Forest More Resilient to Climate Change

An innovative pilot project will replant portions of logged land now owned by Seattle City Light to grow a new forest that could be more resilient to climate change.

Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust and its partners – City Light, Seattle Public Utilities and the Northwest Natural Resource Group — received a $140,000 grant to reforest portions of the Stossel Creek area in the Tolt watershed northeast of Carnation. The grant money is being provided by the Wildlife Conservation Society through its Climate Adaptation Fund, a program supported and established by a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

“Stossel Creek presents a unique opportunity to test innovative, new habitat restoration methods designed to increase resiliency to climate change for Western Washington forests,” said Jon Hoekstra, executive director of the Greenway Trust.

A volunteer from Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust clearing invasive brush.

Trees on the 154-acre site were harvested by a private land company in 2012. Since then, the site has experienced new plant growth, but with few trees. Invasive species have taken hold in some areas. City Light purchased the land in 2015 as part of its Endangered Species Act Early Action Plan to conserve and enhance habitat for steelhead.

Crews and volunteers will reforest the site with native conifer species, such as Douglas Fir and Western redcedar. Instead of using only subvarieties that are native to Washington, this project also will include trees sourced from southwestern Oregon that are better adapted to warmer temperatures and drier summers.

“The climate of the Stossel Creek area is projected to be similar to southwest Oregon’s by the end of the 21st century,” explains Crystal Raymond, a climate adaptation specialist who helped secure the grant while she worked for City Light. “Therefore, the trees adapted to southwestern Oregon are expected to be better suited to the Stossel Creek site as the climate warms. By increasing the tree genetic and species diversity, the site’s resiliency to climate change will increase over time.”

Work to control invasive plant species and site preparation at Stossel Creek will begin this spring and planting new trees will begin in the fall. After planting, the team will have several opportunities to monitor success and share lessons learned from the project.

This pilot project will inform future climate-adapted restoration practices for lands owned by City Light, Seattle Public Utilities and other owners in the region. The long-term goal of the reforestation effort is to establish a diverse forest that will be adapted to the climate of the mid to late 21st century.

Recently, KING 5 visited the site to cover the project. Click here to watch the story featuring City Light’s Denise Krownbell.

Creating a Roadmap to Becoming a 100% Renewable Energy and Carbon Neutral City

OSE is embarking on funded 100% Renewable Cities Project, a three-year effort to develop equity-centered climate strategies with members of the Environmental Justice Committee and the community. OSE is partnering with Puget Sound Sage, SDOT and City Light in this work. Actions will focus on reducing climate emissions by transitioning to fossil fuel-free heating & hot water, increasing efficiency, electrifying transportation & reducing VMT, and expanding solar and other renewables. A potential initial priority for the group is developing a residential roadmap to achieve carbon neutrality in residential buildings by 2050.

With a generous grant from the Kresge Foundation, Puget Sound Sage is partnering with the City to work with the community to co-create a roadmap to become a 100% renewable energy and carbon neutral city. The City/Community collaboration will work to 1) embed equity in the policies and programs developed to implement the Mayor’s climate agenda and 2) design a roadmap to fully transition Seattle to an equitable, renewable, and carbon-neutral energy future.

Mayor Durkan recently released an updated Climate Action Strategy, a suite of actions designed to significantly reduce GHG emissions from the buildings and transportation sectors, Seattle’s largest sources of emissions. The overarching strategy is to transition these sectors to Seattle City Light’s clean and carbon neutral electricity. The Equity and Environment Agenda includes a suite of process and outcome recommendations to embed equity in the city’s environmental work and creates the foundation for advancing equity through climate action.

Statement Concerning Filing of Petition for Review Concerning EPA’s Mid-Term Evaluation of Vehicle Standards

On Tuesday, Seattle City Light and other electric utilities filed a petition for review in the Washington, D.C., Circuit Court of Appeals, challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) determination that EPA’s existing greenhouse gas emission standards for cars and trucks are not appropriate and must be revised.

Electrification of the transportation sector is a key strategy to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change.

“City Light is making significant investments in electric vehicle infrastructure and charging facilities to help advance our customers’ adoption of clean vehicles and achieve emission reductions,” Interim General Manager and CEO Jim Baggs said. “We have already installed two fast charging stations and are working to install 18 more. We also are investing heavily in charging facilities for electric vehicles in the city’s fleet. These investments are part of our overall commitment to modernize the electric grid and continue delivering clean, reliable power to our customers.”

The determination we have challenged is an abrupt reversal of the conclusion EPA reached just 15 months earlier, when it found that the standards were appropriate based on a comprehensive technical assessment conducted in coordination with the Department of Transportation and California.

Late last month, EPA’s own Science Advisory Board voted to review the adequacy of the science cited by EPA in support of its reversal, after a board work group found that EPA had relied extensively on information that had not been adequately validated or peer reviewed.

City Light remains committed to moving forward in support of electric vehicles and opposes EPA’s reversal.  We will continue to support strong greenhouse gas emission standards that will accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles across the country and help mitigate climate change.

Got Oil? Now’s the Best Time to Ditch It

If you’re still heating your home with oil, the City of Seattle is offering an instant rebate up to $2,000 right now through the end of 2018 to switch to an energy-efficient heat pump. Here are several reasons why now is the best time to make the switch:

  1. Heat pumps provide year-round comfort, which includes air-conditioning. And, since you need to heat your home in the winter anyway, why not invest in a system that provides air-conditioning too? No more sleepless nights this summer!
  2. Heating oil is not friendly to the environment. Burning fossil fuels emits carbon pollution which contributes to global warming.  In addition, underground oil tanks leak over time and can contaminate soil and groundwater.
  3. Seattle’s electricity is local and clean. Did you know that Seattle City Light provides carbon neutral electricity?
  4. Heating oil is expensive. Oil prices are volatile and you’re likely to pay a full heating season’s worth of oil all at one time. Heat pumps save about 50% of your heating costs.
  5. The heating season is the busiest season for contractors – by installing a heat pump in the off-season you have more time to get additional bids and to coordinate your project – plus you’ll be well prepared when winter arrives.
  6. Once you have switch to clean electricity to heat and cool your home, you’ll be eligible for Seattle City Light’s insulation and window rebates.

For more information about the City of Seattle’s Oil Conversion Rebate Program visit www.NoMoreOilHeat.com or contact Christine Bunch, Christine.bunch@seattle.gov, 206-615-1633

How Seattle is Preparing for Climate Impacts

While we are used to the occasional short heat wave in Seattle, this most recent one has certainly been longer than usual and made worse by the smoke from the British Columbia wildfires. Unfortunately, our changing climate means we can expect more extreme heat events like these along with a greater risk of wildfires as well. How will we handle these changes in the future?

Photo Source: accuweather.com

OSE recently released the City’s climate preparedness strategy—Preparing for Climate Change —which highlights the range of impacts we expect to see as a result of climate change, including increased heat and flooding, and lays out the actions we will take as a result.

One of the most important things we can do to reduce the impacts of climate change is to reduce our carbon footprint. By using clean and carbon neutral electricity to heat our homes rather than fossil fuels, taking the bus instead of driving, and driving electric when we have to drive, we can all do our part to reduce the impacts of climate change.

Now is a great time to switch out oil or gas heat to a clean, carbon neutral electric heat pump which will also provide air conditioning. The City of Seattle offers up to $2,000 in rebates when you ditch dirty oil and switch to a heat pump. Additionally, if you heat your home with inefficient electric baseboards or an electric furnace, consider going with an electric heat pump and take advantage of Seattle City Light’s rebate.