Luke Wasem, YVSC Intern | November 30, 2021

Here in the Yampa Valley we are fortunate to be able to live among the trees, live among the wildflowers, the water, the wildlife, and all of the natural beauty that surrounds us every day, whether we are going on a hike, commuting to work, walking through the farmers market, or skiing the fresh snow. As we see a warming climate changing the landscape around us, nobody wants to lose the opportunity to do all of these fun and exciting things that are a part of our daily lives. The past few years there has been increasing awareness of places like California that are experiencing greater quantities and intensities of wildfires that are driving people to leave their homes and lives behind in search of places to live where they don’t have to be concerned about evacuation or losing everything.

The thought of evacuating your home and coming back soon after never to see the landscape the way it was ever again is a horrible thought. This is the reality for more and more people each year. Colorado is not immune to this disturbance behavior as we are seeing an increase in quantity and intensity of wildfires as well. Here in the Yampa Valley we have the opportunity to think and act small to spark change that could keep this beautiful place the way we love it.

My name is Luke Wasem, and I am an intern with the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council. Tim Sullivan, YVSC’s Natural Climate Solutions Director, is my mentor for a research project aimed at addressing the opportunity for post-wildfire reforestation in response to the increased quantity and intensity of wildfires in the Yampa Valley. The high temperature of these late fires have been greatly reducing the ability for forests to regenerate on their own after the fire due to killing off all of the seed sources needed for regeneration.

Trees are extremely important to our ecosystem here and provide benefits such as shade for the river, soil, and snowpack; create wildlife habitat; and sequester carbon. The beauty of trees alone is enough to want to save them from their slow disappearance. Next time you are among the trees I encourage you to think about what trees mean to you and what part you could play, small or large, in protecting these organisms. From giving a tree a hug to volunteering to plant trees with the Yampa Valley Climate Crew, your contribution could be a part of the longevity of the natural beauty here in the Yampa Valley!