When a fire burns, it leaves behind tragedy. With 168 homes burned and 6,181 acres left barren, the Fourmile Canyon Fire in 2010 quickly became one of the most devastating wildfires in Colorado history. Seven years later, many residents of the affected area are still struggling to regain what was lost. Pangea Organics, an all-natural beauty products company that has called Boulder home for nearly two decades, is partnering with One Tree Planted, a nonprofit focused on planting trees around the world, to breathe life back into a community that lost so much.
Pangea and One Tree Planted have a goal to raise $20,000 in order to purchase 20,000 trees that will be planted with the help of hundreds of volunteers this Earth Day, April 22 (you can track their progress here). They claim this is the biggest tree-planting effort in state history. Nurtured through two seasons by the Colorado State Forest Service (CSFS) Seedling nursery—an outreach agency operated out of Colorado State University’s Warner College of Natural Resources that nurtures more than 40 species of Colorado native trees and shrubs—the trees will soon find a new home in the Sunshine Canyon portion of the Fourmile burn area.
This effort hits close to home for Pangea founder Joshua Scott Onysko, who lives in Fourmile canyon. Since the fire, he has been using the CSFS nursery to replant around 600 native tree species on his own property. For Onysko, the Earth Day event is just the beginning of the company’s effort to revitalize this area. “If one day out of the entire year we got together and planted trees, we could start planting more trees than are burning down, which really should be the goal,” says Onysko.
The impact of one tree, let alone 20,000, is hard to quantify. But Professor T M Das of the University of Calcutta created a model that found that one tree can be valued at $193,000 (and thus 20,000 would be worth around $3.9 million). According to Das, if it lives for 50 years, one tree will generate $31,250 worth of oxygen, provide $62,000 worth of air pollution control, curb soil erosion and increase soil fertility to the tune of $31,250, recycle $37,500 worth of water, and provide a home for animals worth $31,250. This doesn’t include the fruit, lumber, and beauty the tree will produce in its lifetime.
For those interested in being a part of this Earth Day event, it’s not too late to join. “There are no politics involved, there are no socioeconomic things involved, we can all do this, everyone has the ability to be involved in some way, whether it’s donating, or helping stuff bags, or actually hiking up the mountain to plant trees,” says Onysko. “This is something I think is really important—that we do something that is not politically charged, especially in the climate we’re in now.” Pangea asks that customers visit the One Tree Planted fundraising page to create or join a team, or make a donation.
The event’s Facebook page asks that volunteers bring a water bottle, hat, two to three reusable bags, shovel, hiking boots or shoes, and garden gloves if you have them. Volunteers will potentially bus, bike, or carpool up to the meeting spot at 5411 Sunshine Canyon Road the day of the event. After planting the trees, enjoy a picnic lunch provided by Whole Foods, followed by an afterparty at Shrine Restaurant and Gathering Place at 8 p.m.
For Onysko, this event represents a way to build community and serve the planet, which circles back to one of Pangea’s enduring philosophies: We don’t inherit the Earth from our fathers, we’re borrowing it from our children.