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March 23, 2017

New climate change pilot project to begin with analysis of carbon sequestration feasibility

Board of County Commissioners awards project contract to CSU’s National Resource Ecology Lab

Boulder County, Colo. - To effectively address climate change and reduce Greenhouse Gases (“GHGs”) in the atmosphere, Boulder County in conjunction with the City of Boulder’s Open Space and Mountain Parks Department will begin a pilot project to determine the feasibility of sequestering additional carbon from the soils of agriculture fields, forests, grasslands/rangelands, and urban/residential properties.

Earlier today the Board of County Commissioners awarded this work to scientists at the Colorado State University’s Natural Resource Ecology Lab. CSU’s team has an extensive background in soil science and greenhouse gas tigation research and has been instrumental in researching techniques for carbon sequestration and agricultural greenhouse gas reductions throughout the U.S. and on multiple continents abroad. Dr. Keith Paustian, a Senior Scientists at the NREL, a Nobel Prize winner for his work on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and Professor of Soil and Crop Sciences at CSU leads the research group working on this effort with Boulder County and the City of Boulder.“We are delighted to see Boulder County taking such a leadership position in greenhouse gas reductions and carbon sequestration.It is a privilege to be able to support the county’s efforts in such a meaningful way,” said Dr. Paustain.

Emerging research indicates that carbon sequestration through forestry, land management, and agricultural practices are potentially powerful tools to absorb excess carbon from the atmosphere, thereby helping to mitigate the effects of climate change. Carbon sequestration in soils is also shown to have many co-benefits that can achieve overarching county climate goals such as reductions in GHG emissions, improved soil health, improved crop yields, increased water
retention, and restoration of native plant and animal species.

Boulder County and municipal partners are uniquely situated to undertake this project due to extensive holdings of public rangeland, dryland, and irrigated cropland and forest land. The pilot project in Boulder County will evaluate the results of applicable practices intended to increase carbon sequestration capacity of our local soils. In addition, future phases of this project will consider the possibility of monetizing the additional carbon sequestered through carbon
credits or a climate benefit program.

The expected outcome of Phase 1 is a pilot project plan or recommendations for several pilot plans for carbon sequestration opportunities within Boulder County. The plan will provide a feasibility analysis of optimal carbon
sequestration methods, including a life cycle analysis of carbon sequestration and an economic analysis of the cost per acre treated, across a diversity of land types: agriculture, forest, grassland, and urban/residential. This phase of the project will culminate in a thorough report of carbon sequestration protocols or applications with special consideration to our agricultural tenants and landowner stakeholders. These findings and recommendations will be presented to the general public.

“This project demonstrates Boulder County’s commitment to finding meaningful ways to mitigate climate change effects,” said Commissioner Elise Jones. “We are hopeful that the recommendations provided in this analysis could lead to additional long-term benefits including improved soil health, water quality, and land productivity.”

With approval from the Boulder County Commissioners, the second phase of this project would include implementation of the recommendations.

For more information about the pilot project or carbon sequestration in general, contact Susie Strife at or 303-411-4565. For more information about Boulder County’s overall sustainability mission, visit