Earth Day Recap: Reforestation in Colorado

by Diana Chaplin April 29, 2017

Earth Day may be over, but the trees we planted that day will live on for many years to come!

This reforestation project was a collaboration with Pangea Organics, along with help from the Colorado State Nursery, support from over 350 volunteers, and a handful of partners including Treeline Project, Fjallraven, and Our Future Footprint, not to mention food provided by Whole Foods, Guayaki Yerba Mate, The Kitchen, and others.

And, of course, it was funded by our many incredible donors. Special thanks to our primary sponsors of this project, the Ric & Suzanne Kayne Foundation and VistaJet. THANK YOU!

Together, we planted over 10,000 trees within about 6 hours, and made concrete plans to return next year to continue this reforestation effort because there was just so much land to cover.

So, why Colorado?

The reforestation site was at Sunshine Canyon in Colorado, a region which has had a series of forest fires destroy over 120 acres of forest, including a recent one that just happened a few weeks before we got there. It’s always unsettling to see a lush landscape turn bare, but we comfort ourselves in knowing that there are some ecological benefits to wildfires, including the removal of invasive species, the re-fertilization of soil with nutrient-rich ash, and fostering new plant growth.

What it’s like to plant trees in the mountains

Just getting to the site required a pretty long and winding drive uphill. Our ears were popping and we could see that some of the surrounding land still had snow. Once we parked, we walked down a paved road for about a quarter of a mile before we arrived at the main site where thousands of saplings were waiting for us. We grabbed our shovels, gloves, trees, and headed down the mountain to plant.

The tree species we had were Scotch Pine, Ponderosa Pine, Bristlecone Pine, and One Seed Juniper. Those are the native species for the area, so they’re the ideal variety for reforestation.

It had rained for 2 days prior to Earth Day, but the sun came out on the big day and the weather was just right. Ok, some of us got a sunburn because we didn’t put on our Fjallraven hats!

As you can see above, the terrain was a bit of a challenge. The altitude was high, the land was steep, and the many fallen trees provided obstacles at every turn. Luckily, our volunteers were ready for anything, and we worked hard for several hours. Those who came out to help varied in age and activity level. There were families, dogs, and groups planting together. Everyone was dedicated to having a great day and getting lots of trees planted. One volunteer even said that planting trees in the mountains was on his bucket list.

And we ran into the MSU Denver women’s soccer team!

Despite the many fallen trees, the land felt alive. We saw woodpeckers, mountain bluebirds, many varieties of beetles, interesting plants, and even deer. We have no doubt that with continued stewardship this forest can thrive again within a few decades.

What’s next?

We’re heading to Costa Rica to plant more trees in June. Donate to support reforestation in Costa Ricachoose a project you’re most passionate about, or partner with us if you're a business. If you have any questions, reach out anytime.

Here's to planting a world full of trees together! 

Diana Chaplin
Diana Chaplin


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