The 50th anniversary of Earth Day is an opportunity to reflect on the natural wonders in our community, and how we can build resilience within our changing environment.

Grand County and the City of Moab remain committed to addressing local contributions to global climate change, including residential, commercial, industrial, and agricultural energy use, transportation, water, sewer, and waste disposal, and other activities throughout the county. This work will inform policy goals and strategies which will create a more stable, sustainable community and improve the environmental, social, and economic health of the region.

Staff have been partnering on several initiatives to track and improve the Moab area’s response to climate change, including the creation of a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions inventory. The City and County are also working with regional partners, including our state and national parks, to make Moab and the surrounding area a world-renowned International Dark Sky destination.

2030: A regional goal

Earlier this year, Moab City and Grand County joined approximately 20 other communities in Mountain Towns 2030 (MT2030), a coalition that is committed to working together to aggressively reduce their carbon emissions to net-zero and hopefully by the year 2030.

Each partner in the MT2030 coalition is in the process of tracking its GHG emissions to set a baseline emission footprint. From this baseline, each municipality will set goals, seek solutions, and implement policies to significantly reduce GHG emissions by 2030.

Tracking Greenhouse Gas Emissions

As part of this effort, the City and County have begun a comprehensive inventory of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions resulting from activities within Grand County boundaries. The inventory will measure energy used for buildings, vehicles, waste disposal, groundwater supply, and other activities by the county residents and local industries.

Grand County has some unique challenges that contribute to the area’s GHG emissions. Unsurprisingly, tourism contributes significantly to air and vehicle emissions, and emissions from cars and off-road vehicles traveling through the State and National Parks are more difficult to account for. In addition, interstate travel accounts for approximately 50 percent of miles driven in Grand County (and, therefore, the carbon footprint); similarly, the GHG inventory will include emissions from rail lines traveling through the County, even if they do not stop here. Another challenge is the decentralization of septic systems and propane power in outlying areas of the County, which are difficult to track but are a small portion of the total emission footprint.

Once the City and County have completed the inventory, staff will present the findings to their respective councils in order to discuss actionable items and goals to reduce this footprint.

Dark Skies:

In addition to the GHG inventory, the City and County have been partnering for several years with Friends of Arches and Canyonlands and the Moab Dark Skies Working Group to implement programs and practices that preserve the night sky. Those include establishing rigorous outdoor lighting ordinances, increasing public education and outreach about dark sky conservation, creating a light monitoring program, assisting locals to upgrade their residential or commercial lighting, and supporting the Friends of the Milky Way Program.

The agencies assisted Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and Dead Horse State Park to apply for International Dark Sky Park certifications, which were all approved between 2015-2019. Now, the City and County are working on their own applications to become International Dark Sky Communities.

For more information about the International Dark Sky Association or local Dark Sky Conservation Programs, visit the Moab Dark Skies Facebook page ( or the Grand County Moab Dark Skies webpage (