It’s earth month: here is what Ellensburg is doing to become more sustainable


Photo Courtesy of Pexel

Anna Fridell, Staff Reporter

The city of Ellensburg is engaged in a variety of ways to improve environmental sustainability, according to Mayor of Ellensburg Nancy Lillquist. 

“There’s the stuff we’ve been doing forever, like energy efficiency rebates and water conservation measures,” Lillquist said. “Solar Park, it’s been around for 20 years, tree city, we’ve been doing that for 40 years.” 

In 1983, Ellensburg was given the title of Tree City which means that it’s a city that cares about its trees, according to the City of Ellensburg website. Ellensburg was one of the first cities in Washington to earn this title. 

Lillquist emphasized the importance of education when it comes to improving air quality in the area. 

“Making sure everyone knows there’s an educational component that the city can help with in terms of making sure people burn clean, dry wood and pay attention to those inversion days,” Lillquist said. 

The primary cause of poor air quality in Ellensburg is due to nearby wildfires, according to Lillquist. 

“Primarily, the biggest air quality measures we could take would be to make sure our forests don’t burn,” Lillquist said. “The county just got a grant for a whole lot of money to put towards forest health improvement.” 

The city’s sustainability plan has a major focus on identifying where greenhouse gasses are coming from and providing alternative options to lower emissions, according to Lillquist. 

“What I’m hopeful [for] with the sustainability plan is to have a better picture, particularly for climate change, and where our greenhouse gasses are coming from…as far as my understanding right now, mostly transportation,” Lillquist said. 

A major project the city is working on involves making the switch from gas vehicles to electric within public transportation, according to Lillquist. The city is preparing for this long-term project by installing electric vehicle charging stations for electric or hybrid vehicles at city hall, as well as maintaining these local charging stations, according to Lillquist. 

“We have a grant that is looking towards how to electrify our bus, so those transit buses; eventually we’d like to make them all electric,” Lillquist said.

Lillquist has also acted on a flooding project particularly regarding west Ellensburg. The city built Levy Road with the strategy in mind of capturing the water that previously would flood the road. 

“It goes from Dollarway Road to essentially the freeway [I-90], and that captures a bunch of the water that moves though,” Lillquist said. “We enhanced the bridges to make the bridges bigger across Dollarway Road.” 

The purpose of this project is to relocate the water to keep it off the main roads, according to Lillquist. 

“We’ve got to steer the water, but we have to make sure it has plenty of room to kind of spread out and soak in as well,” Lillquist said. “We’re providing a more appropriate floodplain for it than just running along the road, like it has in the past.”