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Council Corner: Ashland's Climate and Energy Action Plan

My late grandfather, Sam Rosenthal, the progressive two-term mayor of tiny Buffalo, Wyo., often talked about the importance of making where we live a better place for the next generation.

With this core family value in mind, I eagerly accepted Mayor Stromberg's gracious invitation to serve as chairman of Ashland's newly appointed ad hoc Climate and Energy Action Plan Committee. As we bemoan the recent lack of snowpack on Mount Ashland and its consequences, I can't think of a more meaningful subject for Ashlanders, and for Earthlings who believe in climate science, for that matter.

The mayor also tapped conservation commissioners Bryan Sohl, Roxanne Beigel-Coryell and James McGinnis and citizen Louise Shawkat to serve on the committee, and he will appoint additional members in the coming weeks.

Starting with a 6 p.m. public meeting at the Community Development Building on Wednesday, Sept. 2, the committee is charged with making recommendations to the City Council regarding formulation of an action plan identifying existing and potential vulnerabilities and developing actions to protect people and resources from the ongoing impacts of climate change. The overall object, with a January 2017 deadline, is to establish targets and short- and long-term strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Ashland with an emphasis on voluntary measures that can be undertaken by different sectors of the community.

We'll review similar plans in comparable communities, including those adopted by Eugene and Corvallis, consult with area subject matter experts in the areas of transportation, energy, land use and infrastructure (and other areas as the committee deems advisable), and identify implementation steps as appropriate.

The committee's initial tasks are to review and build on the outstanding road map outlined by the Conservation Commission subcommittee that has been working on the issue for the past several months; to assist city staff in formulating a request for proposal (RFP) to obtain bids from prospective contractors needed to coordinate public input, plan and synthesize this giant undertaking; and to communicate needs and desired outcomes for a November kickoff event being organized by the Geos Institute, Rogue Climate and other organizations. (More details about this event will be announced in the coming weeks.)

Meanwhile, a greenhouse gas inventory — needed to determine where the greatest gains can be made in reducing emissions — will soon be underway.

How can you get involved? How can your voice be heard? Easy:

  • Attend Climate and Energy Committee meetings and share your thoughts during the public forum portion.
  • Participate at the kickoff event(s) in November.
  • Send me an email at

    rich@council.ashland.or.us, and I'll pass it along to the entire committee.

  • Check the city website at

    www.ashland.or.us for an "Open City Hall" discussion forum.

Let's do what we can to make Ashland an even better place to live and work — for us and for future generations. Like Sam Rosenthal said.

Rich Rosenthal is a member of the Ashland City Council.