Earth Week 2020
April 22, 2020 marked 50 years of communities coming together for Earth Day. Even though we couldn’t meet physically, the City of Red Lodge transitioned its usual Earth Day Block Party to virtual events!
On Tuesday, April 21st we had a Solar Q&A hosted by the City’s Energy Corps Sustainability Coordinator with speakers Henry Dykema of Sundance Solar Systems and Andrew Valainis of the Montana Renewable Energy Association. Did you know the Red Lodge community has 350,000 watts of solar power installed? This means that Red Lodge has one of the highest solar watts per capita in the country! Watch the recording on Youtube.
On the day of Earth Day, the City joined forces with Courtney Long, a member of the Parks Board, to lead the Critter and Plant Hunt, a citizen science project using iNaturalist. This got kids and adults alike to get outside and rediscover their own backyard. Even though the project is over, you can still snap a photo of critters and plants you discover and upload it to the social networking site iNaturalist. Watch our tutorial on Youtube.
On Thursday, April 23rd Tully Gallagher hosted a live tour of the most energy efficient home in Montana: Beartooth Passive House. We had nearly 50 participants join in!! Watch the recording on Zoom.
On Friday, April 24th the Red Lodge High School Green Team encouraged the community to watch The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind from home on Netflix, then the students hosted an Instagram livestream to discuss it on their account @rlhsgreen.
Obviously these are tough times. We hope that these Earth Week events offered a chance to come together as a community virtually, celebrate our environment, and appreciate the local groups that are working to increase our resilience and protect our natural spaces.
Questions? Email Robin Adams at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call at (530) 450-5513.
Earth Day Block Party Booths
Since this was the first time in four years the City couldn’t host an Earth Day Block Party, the Energy Corps Sustainability Coordinator collected content such as paragraphs, photos, and videos from each organization that was planning having a booth. Check out what all these groups are up to and how you can get involved below.
The Mission Statement of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Foundation:
“It is the Mission of the Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness Foundation to support stewardship of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness and to foster appreciation of wild lands.”
Goals of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Foundation:
- Promote stewardship of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Area and adjacent wildlands;
- Foster community and individual support for wilderness values, programs, and projects;
- Promote opportunities for volunteer participation in wilderness/wildland projects and other programs and activities;
- Educate and inspire people to understand wilderness and wildland values, characteristics, ethics, and ecology;
- Foster long-term relationships with individuals, communities, tribes, colleges and universities, organizations, businesses, and other agencies to achieve these goals.
The ABWF achieves these goals through their programs. Those programs include:
- Trail Building and Maintenance
- Educational Outreach
- Trail Ambassadors
- Citizen Science
- Artists in Residence
- Voices of Yellowstone from Yellowstone’s Capstone: A Narrative Atlas of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness
Our primary partners who help the ABWF remain successful in following our mission statement and reaching our goals are The United States Forest Service and The Beartooth Back Country Horsemen.
For the Earth Week Celebration 2020, the ABWF was looking forward to educating visitors about the importance of removing pet waste when enjoying our trails, public lands, and wilderness areas. This follows “Leave No Trace” messaging. A recent study to explain the difference between wildlife waste vs pet (dog) waste found the following:
Researchers in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park were greeted with exciting findings earlier this year when samples of bear scat mixed with soil in the Park’s greenhouse yielded more than 1,200 Oregon-grape and Chokecherry seedlings. The astounding number of seedlings that germinated from the fertile mixture of bear scat and soil provided even greater evidence for the interdependence of species living in the Rocky Mountain ecosystem. According to researchers, the seedlings are much more likely to germinate after passing through a bear’s internal system compared to simply dropping off the plant. This is because seeds from plants like Chokecherry have a thick, durable seed coat that needs to be broken down for the seed to germinate – a service the bear’s stomach performs remarkably well.
When we start adding in nutrients from pet waste, the ecosystem balance is thrown out of equilibrium. Our dogs likely aren’t eating berries, or other native plants from the ecosystems they leave their waste in, but instead eating nutrient heavy pet-foods designed to give them a complete and healthy diet. Unfortunately, these same pet foods result in excess nutrients in our outdoor spaces if pet waste isn’t picked up.
Pet waste adds excess nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus to the environment. Excess of these nutrients in many ecosystems creates unstable conditions that allow algae blooms to cloud our rivers, lakes, and streams, and create an easy habitat for invasive weeds to grow.
Although it’s easy for us to say, “Well, it’s just my dog pooping in the woods,” we know that Leave No Trace is always about our cumulative impact. Across the US, 83 million pet dogs produce 10.6 million tons (that’s 21,200,000,000 pounds) of poop every year, each pound adding excess nutrients to the ecosystem if the waste isn’t disposed of properly.
Responsible pet ownership means doing our “doody” to pick up our pet’s waste. Pet waste can be bagged and packed out, or in backcountry environments, can be deposited in a 6-8″ deep hole at least 200 feet (70 big steps) away from any water sources.
Even though this study was done in CO and with bears, similar results have been found with bats, bison, wolves, and beavers.
Read the Final Report of this study exploring the difference between wildlife waste and pet waste.
Read more from Leave No Trace on Recreating Responsibly With Pets
The Beartooth Front Community Forum (BFCF) is a grassroots, nonpartisan organization that seeks to retain and enhance the quality of life along the Beartooth Front. BFCF focuses on public education and involvement and promotes thoughtful constructive dialogue to identify areas of consensus on social, economic and environmental issues affecting the Beartooth Front landscape and communities. BFCF is best known as a neutral convener, frequently takes a low public profile, supporting existing nonprofit and governmental organizations in their efforts to serve the public.
The BFCF was formed in 1992 as residents from across the Beartooth Front felt their quality of life was threatened by rapid development and change. BFCF hosts conversations at our annual forums on topics of interest to the broader community, such as motorcycle tourism, local foods, public lands, affordable housing, and mental health. Past BFCF efforts have assisted in the creation of the first Red Lodge master land use plan (now Growth Policy), the creation of the Boys and Girls Club of Carbon County, and a bear proof garbage container program designed to reduce human-bear conflicts.
Looking towards the future, 2030 and beyond, BFCF feels it can best serve the community by keeping the focus on the big picture – current challenges, but also anticipating future challenges, with a focus on community and landscape resilience. Population growth, changing demographics, and a changing climate are likely to affect social, economic and ecological sustainability and resilience of communities and landscapes across the Beartooth Front. Related discussion topics include effects of population growth and changing climate on local agriculture, the outdoor recreation and tourism economy, water (supply and quality), landscape changes to open space and wildlife habitat and community infrastructure and services.
BFCF desires to continue to function as a community catalyst, to provide a safe space to address difficult challenges, and to remain solutions oriented. The fall 2020 BFCF forum, Outlook 2030: Preparing for Change, Investigating Community Resilience will begin the discussion about change and community resilience.
The BRTA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization incorporated in 2006 whose mission is to promote, develop and maintain trails for non-motorized recreation and transportation activities in and near Red Lodge, for the purpose of improving the quality of life and health of both residents and visitors.
P.O Box 1872
Red Lodge, MT 59068
IRS 501(c)(3) Employer Identification Number: 27-0081619
Facebook page: Beartooth Recreational Trails Association
Nordic Center/West Fork Road
Groomed trails are available at the Red Lodge Nordic Center located two miles west of Red Lodge off Highway 78 and the West Fork of Rock Creek 0.5 miles from the Silver Run Trailhead. 25K of trails are laid out to take advantage of the inspiring views and easy-going terrain. This are great places for families to get out and have some affordable fun.
Children’s programs and ski clinics are offered throughout the winter season, and the Silver Run Nordic Ski Team trains at the Nordic Center. Touring skiers might want to kick it up a notch and learn skate skiing, a great exercise to maintain your fitness level through winter. The prepared tracks for classic skiing and the skating lanes allow you to go as fast as your athleticism allows.
There are numerous City and U.S. Forest Service trailheads in the Red Lodge Area linking to hundreds of miles of stunning Beartooth Mountain scenery. There are trails to accommodate those on foot, bicycle, horseback or snowmobile. The BRTA coordinates the maintenance and construction of trails with the U.S. Forest Service, the City of Red Lodge and the Montana Conservation Corps by providing volunteers and funding.
Events sponsored annually by the BRTA include Oktoberfest at Sam’s Brewery in September, a Ski and Gear Swap in November, the Backcountry Film Festival featuring Winter Wildlands Alliance films in March, and an XCulinary food and ski event in February. The BRTA also participates in the annual Red Lodge Fun Run by coordinating setup and distribution of water and fruit at Lions Park, and in a Thanksgiving morning Turkey Trot.
Community Bicycle Program
Bicycles are refurbished by the Spoke Wrench in Red Lodge and provided by the BRTA free of charge to anyone in need of a bicycle to get around Red Lodge. The goals of the Community Bicycle Program are to support our mission of human powered transportation and to support the Red Lodge Active Transportation Plan that seeks to develop a healthy, active lifestyle. The Beartooth Billings Clinic provides the BRTA quality, certified helmets for distribution to participants. Distribution of bicycles is suspended until the Covid-19 protective measures are relaxed.
Education, Collaboration and Advocacy
The BRTA collaborates on important recreational activities consistent with our mission by partnering with nonprofits, public entities, business organizations and businesses. These organizations include, among others, the Absoroka Beartooth Wilderness Foundation, Winter Wildlands Alliance, Pedal United, U.S. Forest Service, Aspen Ridge Ranch, Sylvan Peak Mountain Shop, City of Red Lodge and the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation.
Carbon County Resource Council is a group of concerned citizens advocating responsible use of resource and finding solutions to problems that affect our unique quality of life. Our work protects the quality and diversity of Carbon County’s resources, develops an environmentally conscious and informed community, and fosters a healthy environment.
Opportunities to Get Involved
Since 1997, Carbon County Resource Council has helped county residents develop solutions to problems that affect our quality of life. By joining our efforts, you can:
- Help us expand recycling and compositing in Carbon County by participating in our Red Lodge Zero Committee.
- Ensure local residents, water, and soil are protected during oil and gas development by working to pass appropriate reforms.
- Join us in Helena during the Montana legislature to advocate for laws that encourage common-sense development support family agriculture.
- Enjoy access to Northern Plains Resource Council’s well-trained staff and four decades worth of experience working to keep Montana a good place to live and work.
- Receive reliable and timely information through newsletters, email alerts, factsheets, reports, and more.
Getting the Job Done
Carbon County Resource Council has achieved many victories over the last decade, including:
- Expanded recycling and composting opportunities in Carbon County.
- Protections in Carbon County’s Development Regulations that give landowners the right to receive baseline water testing, a 750 foot minimum setback of oil and gas development from homes, and dust control on roads.
- Revisions to the Carbon County Growth Policy balancing growth plans with protections for people and the environment.
- Raised awareness around energy efficiency, smart growth, soil health, “free trade,” and other issues facing family agriculture.
Nature Connections with Healthy Meadows
– Our Naturalist Collective is an ongoing community of people interested in learning about and connecting with all things natural. Participants in this program will engage with us in activities ranging from identifying plants on their property, to harvesting wild edible and medicinal plants, to gathering and saving native and beneficial plant seeds. In addition, participants will gain access to our walks, farm visits and workshops at a reduced rate, and be critical support for our activities year-round.
447 Red Lodge Creek Rd
Red Lodge, MT 59068
Description: Material Girls of Red Lodge are “Making, Mending, and More” in an effort to keep textiles functional. We encourage the repair and up-cycling of existing textiles to keep them useful and out of the waste stream.
Current projects (currently on hold due to the pandemic): We offer mending classes. We assist the thrift shop with repair and rescue of donations for the floor. We also find uses for, and users of, damaged textiles that need a new life through up-cycling.
You can find us on Facebook at Material Girls of Red Lodge.
In our first full year, we have accomplished so much with the support of the community and with the help of the wonderful Beartooth Industries staff!
We are proud to report that mixed paper, cardboard, aluminum, tin, #1 and #2 plastics and as of January 2020, GLASS recycling services are available for our community. Our facility is now one of the few in the state of Montana that accepts glass.
Other practical milestones for our first year include becoming our own 501c3 nonprofit organization, holding our first annual membership meeting, and establishing a contract with the City for the use of our building. We also purchased a forklift, which improved working conditions at our facility and positively impacted our ability to accept and manage recycling materials.
Further, we have helped to shape the future of recycling in our community by working with the City of Red Lodge and with Energy Corps staff to influence the next waste management services contract the City negotiates (new contract to begin in July 2020). The new service provider will work with Recycle Red Lodge to ensure the future of a safe and easy recycling program for our community.
Recycle Red Lodge, by the numbers:
- Nearly 200 household memberships
- Over 30 business memberships
- Cardboard = 20 bales a month @ 900lbs per bale = 216,000 pounds
- Paper = 3 bales a month @ 1000lbs per bale = 36,000 pounds
- Aluminum = 413 pounds per month = 4960 pounds
- Tin = 496 pounds monthly = 5692 pounds
- Scrap metal = approx 12,000 pounds
- Plastic 1s and 2s = 12,000 lbs (rough estimate)
We also offer composting, and will collect averages for this service in 2020.
In 2020, we are setting goals to educate the public, widen our service area and membership geography, and have a demonstrable impact on waste reduction!
We are “a grass-roots nonprofit organization of volunteers and responsible citizens working to diminish the waste we create.”
Happy 50th Earth Day from the Red Lodge Carnegie Library! We are sad not to be gathering outside the Library for the annual Earth Day Block Party. Even though the Library is currently closed to the public, we still have lots of Earth friendly resources to share with the community.
As soon as we return to lending books, remember that borrowing books and movies from the library is a great way to reduce waste. In addition, the library has lots of books full of ways to help the Earth, from sustainable building practices to alternate energy to environmentally-friendly landscaping and beyond.
Another eco-friendly reading and listening option that is currently available is MontanaLibrary2Go, offering over 25,000 contemporary, classic, and bestseller downloadable and streaming audiobooks and e-books free of charge with your library card. (If you don’t have a library card or can’t find your card number, we can get you signed up now! Just call 406-446-1905 or email email@example.com.)
As we celebrate #EarthDayAtHome, Miss Jodie is sharing a video readaloud of one of her favorite books, Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years by Stacy McAnulty (thanks to MacMillan Publishing Group for allowing librarians to read and share their content during COVID-19). You will learn all about Earth from her own point-of-view in this funny but information-packed book, appropriate for preschool, elementary, and young-at-heart audiences.
Behind the scenes, the Red Lodge Carnegie Library constantly strives to improve our efficiency. In 2020 we are celebrating our Centennial, an exciting achievement made even more so knowing our historic building boasts LED lighting, programmable thermostats, and an 11.45 kilowatt solar array. The library has been the proud recipient of two Arbor Day trees, including the addition of a blue spruce last year that will grow up to become the town Christmas tree. Here’s to another century of the Red Lodge Carnegie Library and many more years of loving the Earth!
The 11.45 kilowatt solar array is helping offset 70% of the Library’s electricity usage, and will save the City roughly $1,850 annually. The City was able to purchase and install the Library solar panels thanks to the Universal Systems Benefit Grant from NorthWestern Energy. This grant paid for 90% of the project costs, or $24,377. The Library then fundraised for the remaining 10% of the project costs. The total cost of the solar array came to $27,086.06 – since we had incredible support from the community, we were able to get a return on investment for the array within the first month!
Obviously we’ve seen a reduction in energy use since the Library closed to the public in March. However, even without using as much electricity, with these sunnier days the solar array has been banking energy for future use. Independent Power Systems offers a monitoring system that tracks the solar production of the array minute by minute, so we know that in the last 8 months the array has produced 4.86 MWh of electricity and saved 7,531 lbs of Carbon Dioxide emissions. If the Library planted 25 trees per month, it would be roughly the same emissions reduction as the panels are preventing!
To see the system performance for yourself, check out the SolarEdge Monitoring Page.
The Green Team would have hosted a sustainable pop-up shop at Earth Day this year. The club had partnered up Sylvan Peak and Klean Karma Soap Studio to provide sustainable gift options at shops during the Holiday season and hoped to expand upon that model during the annual Earth Day celebration. We had scheduled another soap class with Danielle Moore at the soap studio in March, but were unable to make any new products because of the school closure. However, the group does have three kinds of soap still available; Back to Britain, Ram Rain and Not in School in case you are in need of some local soap to keep your hands clean with all of this vigilant handwashing! During this time and always, purchasing local is always a sustainable option! Check out this article for 7 Ways to Shop Sustainably in 2020
A Water Bottle Filling Station on Broadway
A team of four Red Lodge High School students, Kaleb Nell, Robert Butler, Elijah Lauver, Sophia Boughey (pictured above) and their school counselor Cindy Luoma are partnering with the Red Lodge Rotary Club in order to install a water bottle filling station on main street, and are in the final stages of the fundraising and planning processes. Excavation should begin shortly after the shelter in place order is lifted.
These four high school students attended the RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Academy) Leadership camp the summer of their freshman year. After returning from the camp, each of the four students were given 50 dollars and the challenge to work on a project to better their community. Deciding to work together and pool resources, they had $200 and a passion for community service. Two years and over $5,000 of fundraising later, they are taking the final steps to complete this project.
The overuse of single use plastics is a problem that has plagued green movements for as long as they have been around, so finding ways to reduce the constant use of these is key in helping to reduce Red Lodge’s carbon footprint. This water bottle filling station will help decrease the use of single use plastics in the form of plastic water bottles, and encourage not only Red Lodge’s people but tourists as well to bring their reusable water bottles to get a drink. Over 60 million plastic water bottles end up either in landfills or incinerators every day. With a goal of doing something to better their community, this group of student leaders is spearheading a movement to decrease Red Lodge’s contribution to that number.
Major Donors Include:
Hazel Chamberlain Community Grant
Red Lodge Lions Club
Beartooth Billings Clinic
Carbon County Resource Council
City of Red Lodge
Red Lodge High Schools Skills USA
Red Lodge High School Green Team
The Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary’s mission is to provide lifelong sanctuary to non-releasable Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem wildlife while sharing a message of education and conservation. See the Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary in Numbers on the left. In the video below, watch a quick peek at the Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary and how you make a difference. This video was created for a virtual City of Red Lodge Earth Week in 2020.
Resources and Activities
Every day is Earth Day! See below for some online resources that are good any time of the year.