High alpine mountain towns like Aspen are seeing the effects of climate change before many other places, making us “canaries in the mineshaft” for global climate impacts. The Canary Initiative is a beloved member of the Aspen community and reaches out to residents and visitors, alike, to share Aspen’s message of climate action.
The City of Aspen strives to be an environmental leader and to promote environmental stewardship throughout the Roaring Fork Valley, across the state of Colorado, and around the globe. We recognize Aspen’s dependence on climate and natural resources for a thriving economy, healthy ecosystems, and exceptional quality of life. In an effort to do our part to reduce the threat of climate change, Aspen's City Council adopted the City of Aspen’s Canary Action Plan in 2007, which commits to reducing community emissions 30% by 2020 and 80% by 2050, below 2004 levels.
Ashley Perl 970.429.1798
Ashley is first and foremost a passionate member of the Aspen community. She was born and raised in Aspen and grew up in the mountains of the Roaring Fork Valley. Ashley loves serving the people of Aspen by working to make Aspen a sustainable place for future generations. She is an avid skier and cyclist and can be found on her lunch breaks either on the mountain or running the trails around Aspen. Ashley holds degrees from the University of Colorado at Boulder and also studied at the Monterrey Institute for International Studies. As the director of the Canary Initiative, Ashley oversees the City of Aspen’s climate mitigation and tracking projects; serves as the City’s climate resiliency officer; represents Aspen in state and federal policy matters; and is a resource to fellow employees, local businesses, visitors, the schools and others in all matters related to energy and climate.
Data & Research Project Planner
Chris Menges 970.920.5072
As Canary’s principle research analyst, Chris tracks GHG emissions and energy use, analyzes emissions trajectories and develops strategies to help the city achieve its carbon reduction and resiliency goals. He also participates in state and federal policy discussions and provides expertise to community groups working on climate and energy. Prior to joining the city, Chris worked as a fellow at American Whitewater, spent three years as Climate and Clean Energy Director at High Country Conservation Advocates in Crested Butte, CO and interned at Climate Solutions in Portland, OR and Friends of the Earth in Washington DC. He holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental policy from Western State Colorado University and a Master of Science in Climate Science and Solutions from Northern Arizona University. When not working on climate related topics, Chris is generally chasing waterfalls (summer) or fresh lines (winter).
Utilities Efficiency Specialist
Ryland French 970.429.1969
Ryland manages the energy efficiency and distributed renewable energy programs provided to the customers of the City of Aspen electric and water utilities. He is a resource to customers to help them take control of their utility bills, make their buildings more comfortable and safe, and reduce their environmental impact. Ryland is a certified Building Analyst Professional through the Building Performance Institute. He graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science and a minor in Environmental Economics and Law. In addition to helping people and the environment, Ryland’s passions include music, travel, snowboarding, cycling, hiking, and spending time with family and friends.
Climate Outreach Coordinator
Jane Wilch 970.429.1749
Jane grew up in the state of Iowa and attended The University of Iowa where she earned degrees in Environmental Sciences and Environmental Policy and Planning, and a certificate in Sustainability. Before coming to Aspen, Jane worked for the City of Iowa City local government in Iowa City, IA where she helped develop and manage recycling and waste reduction projects in the community. In working for City of Aspen's Canary Initiative, she is in charge of outreach and marketing for Canary's climate mitigation and resiliency projects. She collaborates with residents, businesses, local groups, and schools in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Jane has always had a love for nature and a passion for environmental protection. She is happy to be here in Aspen and is motivated to help the community improve climate preparedness so that all can continue to enjoy this beautiful alpine town.
Climate Action and Sustainability Fellow
Laura supports the Canary team and the City of Aspen's climate action goals. She assists the department with energy and water efficiency campaigns and programs, climate tracking programs, research, and community outreach. Before coming to the Canary Initiative, Laura was an educator for the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, teaching environmental science at Crystal River Elementary School in Carbondale and in outdoor programs throughout the Roaring Fork Valley. Laura loves being a member of the Aspen community and is committed to developing a deeper sense of place here through climate work, as well as, exploring on foot, bike, and skis. Originally from coastal Maine, Laura earned her B.A. from Bowdoin College.