Linda Dobson
Fast-talking innovators show the way to our biocarbon future

One of the special highlights at the Northwest Biocarbon Summit–for me and many others–was a remarkable series of “Speed Talks” by real-world Northwest practitioners who brought to life the full portfolio of biocarbon solutions.  (Click their name to watch the video!):

  • Peter Hayes, President of Hyla Woods and a Board Member of Build Local Alliance, grounded in his experience as a working forest landowner, reflecting on the forces driving rational forest landowners toward deficit spending of natural capital and what is needed to change the equation to promote the conservation economy. 
  • Linda Dobson, Sustainable Stormwater Division Manager for the City of Portland, showed how a regulatory order from the EPA to reduce the risk of sewerage overflows in big rainstorms sparked the City to embrace a whole new green infrastructure approach, saving money and helping make the community more beautiful and rich in biocarbon.
  • Mike Wetter, Executive Director of the Intertwine Alliance described how a groundbreaking partnership of public and private organizations in the greater Portland metro area is transforming  conservation planning, making the city an integral part of an investment strategy for trails, parks, natural areas, forests, and water systems that support healthy people and ecosystems.
  • Keeley O’Connell, Senior Project Manager at EarthCorps, talked about her exciting work to develop coastal ‘blue carbon’ solutions.  Tidal wetlands, salt marshes, seagrass meadows, and mangrove forests absorb and store tremendous amounts of carbon and EarthCorps is a regional leader in developing the science and best practices to support a scale-up of coastal restoration. 
  • Dennis Canty, Northwest Regional Director of American Farmland Trust, made the case that agriculture is a major part of the climate change problem, but is potentially also a major part of the solution.  He highlighted a portfolio of biocarbon solutions, many of which can support profitable farming, concluding that keeping farms in farming and preventing their conversion to suburbs, is urgent from a biocarbon perspective.  
  • Maurice Robinette, Owner of Lazy-R Ranch near Spokane, described the cutting edge grazing and ranch management techniques Lazy-R uses to maximize carbon storage, foster rangeland health, and produce all natural, grass-fed beef.  Lazy-R Ranch’s motto is: We Ranch Like Your Future Depends on It.
  • Dr. Sally Brown, Research Associate Professor at University of Washington, explained the huge potential for building carbon-rich soils that exists in materials we have thought of as waste, highlighting in particular the wide-ranging benefits for soil fertility of biosolids, a byproduct of our wastewater treatment plants.
  • John Miedema, Founder of Biological Carbon LLC, introduced us to the amazing potential of biochar and outlined a collaborative research effort to test and develop sustainable biochar systems that produce clean energy, build soil and store carbon, and in some cases clean up environmental contamination.

These biocarbon innovators, and many others like them, are helping the Northwest establish a trailblazer position, showing the world how we can pull more carbon pollution out of the atmosphere through strategies that are really attractive economically, socially and environmentally.

Author Bio

Rhys Roth

Director, Center for Sustainable Infrastructure, Climate Solutions

Rhys Roth co-founded Climate Solutions in 1998, and left the organization in July 2013 to create the Center for Sustainable Infrastructure.

To connect with the Center for Sustainable Infrastructure, contact Rhys Roth at or 360-867-6906.

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