Carbon purchase helps festival plan "green" event

Ducks Unlimited and partners facilitate Telluride Bluegrass purchase of carbon offsets from Colorado ranch

DU helps Telluride Bluegrass Festival offset carbon output with purchase from Colorado ranch family.

© Telluride Bluegrass Festival

DU helps Telluride Bluegrass Festival offset carbon output with purchase from Colorado ranch family.

Telluride’s Planet Bluegrass is about to go a little greener. Ducks Unlimited (DU) and the Pinhead Climate Institute (PCI) announce a bulk sale of verified Colorado-based agricultural carbon offsets to Planet Bluegrass that will neutralize a significant portion of the carbon emissions generated during the 45th Annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival, June 21-24. Planet Bluegrass is already one of Telluride’s, and perhaps the nation’s, most environmentally aware festivals, and this step will bring their “greening” efforts closer to home.
Ducks Unlimited worked with the May family, who own more than 14,500 acres of native grassland on their ranch near Lamar, Colorado, to develop the innovative carbon offset project, Dallas May and his family agreed to implement climate-beneficial conservation practices to generate carbon offsets that can be sold into the emerging carbon offset market. 

With critical, up-front support provided by Pinhead Climate Institute, DU initiated the project and shepherded it through an extremely rigorous process, ensuring the integrity of the carbon offsets. This included achieving carbon offset project verification by SCS Global Services, an independent third-party verifier. Ducks Unlimited’s leadership in grassland carbon offsets underscores the value of carbon projects to secure carbon while providing many additional environmental services, including critical habitat for migratory waterfowl located on the ranch. 

“The May family sought Ducks Unlimited’s help to preserve what they had. We went to work considering conservation finance options,” said Billy Gascoigne, economist and environmental markets specialist for DU. “Facing conversion threat on all sides and multiple offers on the table, we knew their ranch would be a perfect fit for an avoided conversion carbon offset project.” 

PCI helped fill a critical financing gap and facilitated the transaction with Telluride Planet Bluegrass.

“Thanks to this unique partnership between Planet Bluegrass, Pinhead Climate Institute, Ducks Unlimited, and, most importantly, the May family ranch, we are able to support carbon market development that financially rewards these visionary ranchers and project developers 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, festival organizers began seeking local carbon offset projects. 

"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.

Once threatened on all sides by conversion to cropland agriculture, in addition to a large development proposal, the pristine May ranch is now permanently protected thanks to the innovative carbon offset program and accompanying conservation easement. Through this project, the May family is paid to leave soil intact and untilled, protecting the large below-ground soil reserves that otherwise would have been emitted into the atmosphere.  

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 and supporting diverse plant communities that are beneficial to wildlife.

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. To learn more about PCI and its offset program, or to purchase offsets, please visit

Ducks Unlimited Inc. is the world's largest nonprofit organization dedicated to conserving North America's continually disappearing waterfowl habitats. Established in 1937, Ducks Unlimited has conserved more than 14 million acres thanks to contributions from more than a million supporters across the continent. Guided by science and dedicated to program efficiency, DU works toward the vision of wetlands sufficient to fill the skies with waterfowl today, tomorrow and forever..

SCS Global Services is a global leader in third-party quality, environmental and sustainability verification, certification, auditing, testing, and standards development. SCS has been a leader in carbon offset verification since 2008. In addition to its Emeryville, California, headquarters operation, SCS has affiliate offices in Latin America, Asia/Pacific, Europe and Africa. SCS is a chartered benefit corporation, reflecting its commitment to socially and environmentally responsible business practices. For more information, visit

Media Contacts:
Becky Jones Mahlum, Ducks Unlimited 

Sarah Holbrooke, Pinhead Institute