Ryan Messinger, Natural Climate Solutions Technician | November 7, 2021
As seen in Steamboat Pilot & Today

As autumn gives way to the cold and snow of winter, the Yampa Valley Climate Crew’s first season also comes to an end. The climate crew is run through Yampa Valley Sustainability Council and was created to connect community members with volunteer opportunities to empower them through experiential action in the fight against climate change.

From June to October, the program saw nearly 100 community volunteers join eight different projects that addressed climate change right here in the Yampa Valley. Whether it was planting trees to sequester carbon out of the atmosphere or creating more resilient watersheds by constructing artificial beaver dams, Yampa Valley residents showed up in force to volunteer their time toward creating and maintaining a healthy environment.

In early August, the Yampa Valley Climate Crew partnered with the U.S. Forest Service to conduct regeneration surveys in Buffalo Park on Rabbit Ears Pass in areas that were burned by the 2018 Silver Creek Fire. Over the course of three days, 20 volunteers covered 1,525 acres looking for tree saplings indicative of forest regeneration. The data collected will help inform decisions about where to plant trees in May 2022, a project in which the climate crew will also be involved.

As part of the Sustainability Council’s commitment to coordinating with local organizations, the climate crew led 12 volunteers from Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp. on a beaver mitigation project in Rotary Park. Beaver activity in the area has led to slower cottonwood tree regeneration, but thanks to our volunteers, over 20 young saplings now have cages that will allow them to grow unimpeded to their full potential.

On Oct. 16, the climate crew had its strongest volunteer showing of the season. Over 35 community members from both the Steamboat Springs and Craig area teamed up with the Natural Resources Conservation Service to plant trees along Elkhead Creek to reestablish a riparian corridor, which will both sequester carbon and cool the river. With everyone’s help, over 1,000 trees were planted along 1,120 linear feet of streambank.

All of this would not have been possible without our hardworking volunteers and committed partners, including Colorado Parks and Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Alpine Bank and Ski Corp. A special “thank you” to the Yampa Valley Climate Crew sponsors, Rotary Club of Steamboat Springs and Yampa Valley Electric Association, for their generous grants that made this program possible.

Thank you to everyone who joined the climate crew this season to create a healthier and more resilient Yampa Valley.