Campaign mobilizes the community to regenerate soils, trees and habitats

The City of Boulder and several community partners announce the launch of Cool Boulder, a campaign to mobilize the Boulder community around natural climate solutions. The Cool Boulder campaign will help coordinate opportunities for community involvement in three action areas: Connected Canopies, Pollinator Pathways/Cool Corridors, and Absorbent Landscapes.

The launch of Cool Boulder is the latest step in the city’s multi-departmental effort to expand the scope and scale of climate action. As presented to City Council in February, the city’s climate action must encompass both emissions reduction and preparation for more fires, floods, extreme weather and poor air quality. Expanding natural climate solutions is a key strategy in addressing both mitigation and resilience.

“The science is clear,” said Natural Climate Solutions Policy Advisor Brett KenCairn. “We must fundamentally shift our relationship with the living world if we want to adequately address the climate emergency and its associated impacts. The Cool Boulder campaign expands our efforts to protect and regenerate urban, agricultural, and natural ecosystems. Through these actions, we will increase the natural world’s ability to absorb carbon, heat, and water, making our community cooler, healthier, and better able to withstand a warmer and more volatile climate.”

Natural climate solutions are also accessible to a much larger segment of the community. While efforts like energy efficiency upgrades, installing solar, or switching to electric cars remain essential, they can also be costly. Many of the actions called for in natural climate solutions —tree planting, installing shade-creating pollinator-friendly gardens, or building low-tech structures that retain water in our landscapes — can be accessible to most community members and create economic opportunities.

The city expects this initiative to take a decade or more and involve dozens of local organizations, many of them already leaders in this field. Several Boulder-area communities already organize thousands of community members to take climate actions—converting lawns to gardens, enhancing the ability of soil to hold carbon and water and expanding our urban tree canopy. Cool Boulder is bringing together many of these partner organizations to coordinate and collaborate.

“We are very excited to be an active partner in this campaign,” said Rosie Briggs, Volunteer Coordinator for Eco-Cycle. “Our network of over 1,000 volunteer Eco-Leaders is already signing up to help coordinate and implement everything from pollinator advocate trainings to neighborhood heat mapping.”

City, NOAA to Map Boulder’s Urban Heat

One of the city’s first Cool Boulder projects will be to assess where increased heat poses the greatest risk in the community. Earlier this week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced that Boulder is a part of a group of over a dozen cities across the country participating in a groundbreaking urban heat mapping initiative. This summer, using heat sensors mounted on their own cars or bikes, volunteer citizen scientists, led by a team of local partners in each city, will traverse their neighborhoods in the morning, afternoon, and evening on one of the hottest days of the year.

“Climate change is a classic ‘wicked problem’—it is beyond the capability of any single interest or organization to solve,” said KenCairn. “The Cool Boulder Campaign is being built from the outset as a collaborative initiative that brings the passion, resources and remarkable expertise of our amazing community together to improve Boulder’s climate readiness. We also see this as a model for other communities to take similar action. Through our participation in the NOAA Urban Heat Mapping campaign and our leadership in the Urban Sustainability Director’s Network, we are working with dozens of other communities across the country in helping support similar efforts.”

Learn more about Cool Boulder and sign up for an action area at coolboulder.org.