The City of Missoula has a climate action plan which calls for City operations to be carbon neutral by 2025. We are taking steps to achieve these goals, including the zero-waste initiative and the solar energy project at the Wastewater Treatment Facility, as well a the sustainable energy developmet project with Gallatin County. Now is a time for us to recognize the recent opportunities opened with Federal legislation and to be bold in our efforts. Recycling, waste-management, energy conservation and even alternative energy production — we should not be afraid to have the big conversations and see what opportunities arise. We also need to be consciously inclusive in these efforts to ensure that policies protect and enhance our environment equitably for all Missoulians. We can make a big difference through bold projects such as what it outlined above, and at the same time we can make a large impact simply by finding ways to make it easier for Missoulians to help on their own scale.

The opportunities around composting in Missoula are there for the taking, with willing community partners ready to join us in a bold effort. The recent entry of a second garbage hauler into our local market is a prime disruption that provides opportunity for us to consider encouraging different services. If we could start a program that diverts more and more food waste from our landfills, we can help every Missoulian have an impact with very little extra effort.

As I have mentioned, our environment provides us all many opportunities to recreate, relax, recharge, and simply survive. Everything we do must factor in the impacts we are leaving behind. No solutions will be perfect, and there are times when the decisions will be between high-impact options, but we must do our best to consider outcomes and balance them with basic human needs as best we can. 

The City of Missoula has done a tremendous job planning for a future that is less impactful on our surroundings, so our foundation is strong. If we can promote education and understanding to help our citizens follow suit we will be well on our way to a more sustainable Missoula. Individually, if we can make strides to illustrate the value of energy-efficient upgrades for homeowners in a way that allows them to reinforce the benefit and the value, we will make progress in implementation among private residences in Missoula.

The commitment to open space and conservation in and around Missoula is one of the reasons people love this community, and when opportunities present themselves to expand or enhance those efforts we need to consider them strongly. The growth in city-owned public lands that have come from voluntary conservation, often using open space funds to leverage these opportunities makes Missoula a model for successful land conservation throughout the nation. Missoula's open space is something we can all be proud of.

My wife Staci and I are raising two wonderful children, James and Hannah — with a great assist from our Missoula community and all the natural and cultural beauty and opportunity that surrounds us in Western Montana. I care deeply about our environment in the Missoula valley, and I recognize that every decision we make has an impact on the great quality of life we enjoy here.