Telluride Bluegrass: Planning Greenest Festival in 45 Years, Supports Rancher

Telluride Bluegrass: Planning Greenest Festival in 45 Years, Supports Rancher

The Telluride Bluegrass Festival is about to go just a little bit greener. The Pinhead Climate Institute (PCI) is pleased to announce a bulk sale of Colorado-based agricultural carbon offsets to Planet Bluegrass that will neutralize a significant portion of the carbon emissions generated when the 45th annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival takes place from June 21-24. Planet Bluegrass is already one of Telluride’s and perhaps the nation’s most environmentally aware festivals, and this is a step to bring their “greening” efforts closer to home. To learn more about PCI and its offset program, or to purchase offsets, go here or contact Sarah Holbrooke at

Note: Tips from the vendor stands (mostly beer stand) will be generously donated by Planet Bluegrass to help with the Telluride Carbon Neutral Coalition efforts to reduce our carbon footprint. The tip card (below) will be at the beer booth and vending stands.

The ranch-based carbon offset sale is the first major, commercial purchase of carbon offsets made available by PCI, an offshoot of the Telluride-based STEM education non-profit Pinhead Institute. Individuals and families can also buy the same offsets, through Pinhead’s website. Telluride’s Pinhead Climate Institute has facilitated this transaction through a strategic partnership with Ducks Unlimited and the May Family Ranch near Lamar, Colorado.

Dallas May and his family own more than 16,000 acres in eastern Colorado. The family made a voluntary decision to implement climate-beneficial conservation practices and generate carbon offsets that are sold into the emerging carbon offset market. Ducks Unlimited has ensured that the carbon offsets are properly quantified and Telluride-based Pinhead Climate Institute is leading the entire effort.

“Thanks to this unique partnership between Planet Bluegrass, Pinhead Climate Institute, Ducks Unlimited, and, most importantly, the May family ranch, we are able to sustain a carbon market that financially rewards these visionary ranchers while accomplishing the sustainability goals of the 45th Annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival,” said PCI co-founder and climate scientist Dr. Adam Chambers.

The Telluride Bluegrass Festival has been neutralizing 100 percent of the emissions caused by festival’s travel, electricity, diesel and gasoline by investing in innovative carbon reduction projects since 2007. In 2014 the festival organizers began seeking local carbon offset projects.

“Our mission is one of continually pushing the limits with regards to responsible event production. Planet Bluegrass only supports carbon reduction projects that are transparent, third party verified, and [the hardest quality of all to fulfill] local to our festivals. The May Ranch offsets fit perfectly with our desire to benefit the rural farming and ranching communities in local proximity to the festival,” said Steve Szymanski, Senior Vice President, Planet Bluegrass.

The PCI carbon offsets are generated by the May Ranch, a 16,480-acre parcel of Colorado shortgrass prairie located along the Arkansas River in Prowers County, Colo. Once threatened on all sides by conversion to cropland agriculture and even a feedlot, 85 percent of the pristine ranch is now under permanent and perpetual conservation easement thanks to the innovative carbon offset program. Through this project, the May family is paid to leave its soil intact and untilled, where it can remove planet-warming carbon from the atmosphere, store it, and help address global climate change.

This is a working-lands conservation project, meaning that the May Family can still ranch on their property but they agree to maintain the soil carbon stocks forever. Healthy soils are rich in carbon and provide numerous co-benefits, including being more resilient to drought. Participants of this project all recognize that our Nation’s agricultural lands can be part of the climate solutions.

A portion of the offset purchase price will also fund PCI’s climate science education programs for children in rural southwest Colorado.

“Planet Bluegrass has been a leader in sustainability, and this project is something everyone can learn from. I’m excited that Pinhead can help teach our students and be a leader through local community actions that anyone can implement. We have no choice but to move towards carbon neutrality as soon as possible,” said Pinhead Institute ED Sarah Holbrooke. “Partnering with Planet Bluegrass on our PCI Offset Program is a nifty way to do the right thing, help out rural America and have fun while we’re doing it.”

Pinhead Institute is a Smithsonian Affiliate based in Telluride, Colorado that strives to promote science-education both locally and globally. Through the Pinhead Climate Institute, its existing mission is expanded to enable education, technology development, innovative partnership opportunities, and actions that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and enhance carbon sequestration in the terrestrial landscape and to rapidly bring attention to near-term global climate change solutions on the U.S. landscape.

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