Carbon Neutral Efforts

Carbon Neutral Efforts

Why do this now?

Being members of CNPS, we are champions for native plants – but not just native plants, also pollinators, birds, and other creatures that live among them. From the pine forests to the oak woodlands, from the chaparral to our own backyard gardens – as we enjoy these special places, our activities release carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Every little bit done now slows climate change beginning now.  Doing so gives more time for native plants to adjust to the changing conditions where they live, or to make their move to new suitable locations.

Why do this as a Chapter?

We are leveraging the knowledge of our individual chapter members to implement our Carbon Neutral Pledge. Our expertise spans from data gathering and analysis (to estimate the chapter’s carbon footprint) to implementing conservation projects (to sequester carbon in our local forest) to choosing carbon offsets (to donate to projects of others who are also slowing climate change).

Case Studies in Carbon Sequestration
Meeting our carbon neutral pledge every year since 2020

NEW Nov 2023: You are invited to read about our chapter’s carbon neutral journey. We made a carbon neutral pledge in 2019 and developed tools to enable us to become carbon neutral for the last three fiscal/activity years. CNPS headquarters has made a similar pledge for 2030, but we chose to dive right in, believing that doing something toward reducing the effects of climate change now was better than waiting. Our method in brief was – Best guess to start.  Just start.  Then collect data.  Fix guess.  Next, better data.  Fix guess again.  Repeat…

More about this at:  

Jan 2023: Carbon Offset Purchase for April 2022 to March 2023

The chapter purchased 8 tons of carbon offsets for $144 which subsidized the cost of “biogas bags” and cookstoves for farmers in Oaxaca, Mexico. This project reduces methane emissions from manure and provides biogas for cooking. Methane is a greenhouse gas like carbon dioxide. See the table below for details of our estimated carbon footprint for this year:

CNPS Carbon Neutral Savings

Jan 2022: Carbon Offset Purchase for April 2021 to March 2022

The chapter’s carbon footprint was estimated to be over 7 tons but was mostly offset by a conservation project we had volunteered on several years earlier. It was calculated that the carbon sequestered directly because of our work for the “Protecting Pines at Caples Creek” project was approximately 6 tons yearly. We treated old-growth trees so that they might survive a prescribed burn and continue to sequester carbon.

The Board decided to recognize the 6-ton contribution for the previous summer’s volunteer work and to also purchase $150 of carbon offsets. This purchase helped the Southern Plains Land Trust conserve short grass prairie in Colorado.

Jan 2021: Carbon Offset Purchase for April 2020 to March 2021

It’s a new process for us; one that we will repeat every year. For the time being we are focusing on just our transportation carbon (Scope 1 emissions). Our carbon footprint is based upon how far members, visitors and customers travel to get to meetings, to hikes, to conservation work parties, and to plant sales. We made a “best guess” estimate of 7 tons. To put the 7 tons in perspective, the average yearly carbon footprint per person in the U.S. is 15 tons. The Board voted a contribution of $110 to help reduce emissions from deforestation in the Yaeda Valley, Tanzania.

Recommended by Chapter Members

If you know of resources that educate about carbon neutral subjects, and help increase the enjoyment and use of California native plants; please let us know by contacting Tal Blackburn.
Gardening in a Changing Climate
“Here’s what I found to be an excellent Master Gardener presentation on climate change and how people can live more sustainably. It’s by Steve Savage, retired meteorologist and local Master Gardener and was given in 5 (!) one hour segments. It’s available online at the Master Gardeners of Dorado County website… might be great to offer as a link. I really got a lot out of it and plan to listen again. (Lester really liked it too.)” -Alice
Kiss the Ground

Documentary available on Netflix

“A highly produced Netflix documentary called Kiss the Ground is worth mentioning as a resource. While directed at our destructive agricultural practices and not the average gardener, the message is clear that healthy soils sequester carbon. Watching it leads to many resources such as Kristin Ohlson’s book, The Soil Will Save Us, and Elaine Ingham’s “ -Christie
Climate Change Solutions Simulator
“You might be interested in looking at Climate Interactives’ Climate Change Solutions Simulator. The purpose of it is to evaluate the best options for reducing greenhouse gases. Not surprisingly, putting a price on carbon is very effective.” -Gwen
Zero Waste Groceries

“My son in SF sent me this link. If I lived in the Bay Area, I’d try. They don’t deliver up here, but I signed up for their newsletter and expressed interest. Premise is no plastic waste… I thought you might be interested in the fact that there are services out there… It is one way to minimize a carbon footprint. So this is a little FYI.” -O.J. (The following link has been updated to the Litterless website which maintains a list of stores that let you reuse your own containers. There are store listings for Sacramento, Auburn, Tahoe and more. Also your local grocery store will likely let you reuse your vegie and fruit plastic bags.)

EDC Fire Safe Chipping Program

As of Dec 2023, the El Dorado County’s Fire Safe chipping program remains funded:


Instead of burning your brush piles this year, consider having them chipped.  It’s good for reducing severity of wildfires, good for fewer carbon emissions compared to burning piles and a free service.

Chips can be used as mulch, on garden paths or under chicken roosts.  If spreading chips over a large field area is desired, consider observing CNPS’ guidelines for applying compost to rangelands.  Their guidelines’ purpose is to minimize detriment to land well suited for native plants.  Though compost is not the same as chips, the guidelines offer some insight nevertheless.  CNPS recommends a maximum of ¼” compost every 3 years, not tilled in.  They advise that serpentine soil may not be a good candidate area and areas with many native plants may also not be good candidates.