Forest in Fourmile Canyon 1

Joshua Onysko and his company, Pangea Organics, have partnered with One Tree Planted to help regrow Fourmile Canyon’s pine and helm forest lost to wildfire in 2010.

Call it a company’s social responsibility or a personal desire to affect change in the environment, but, no matter what, on April 22, Earth Day, Joshua Onysko, founder of Pangea Organics, and a team of up to 500 people are going to stick 20,000 trees in the ground.

This reforestation effort, led by Boulder-based Pangea Organics, is meant to be a start in mending the 8,000-acre burn scar from the 2010 Fourmile Canyon Fire. Onysko, who lives on 20-acres in the canyon, had taken to replanting trees on his property noting the slow-to-no natural revitalization over the last seven years. It was then he decided to include his company and expand the effort.

“People have thought that the forest will regrow itself, but with climate change that isn’t really the case,” Onysko says. “Burns from the early ‘80s haven’t come back yet because it is really dry now. A lot of fires, including the one in Fourmile Canyon, came from humans. Now it’s up to humans to stimulate growth in the burn areas.”

Pangea Organics is partnering with a Boulder-area nonprofit, One Tree Planted, which creates a matching system for donations to buy trees. But here’s the thing about having a bunch of trees: you have to plant them.

“My grandpa used to say that you can’t grow trees in your mind – you have to get them in the ground,” Onysko says. “Right now we have about 250 volunteers and we’re looking for about 500 total.”

There is a Facebook page called “Pangea Organics Earth Day Tree Planting!” if you want to help out.

The 20,000 trees Onysko and One Tree Planted have acquired from a tree nursery at Colorado State University are expected to cover 100 acres. Keep in mind, these aren’t trunked out 10’-tall trees that take the Paul Bunyan-type to plant; they are six-inch seedlings.

The project this year won’t revitalize the entire burn area of Fourmile Canyon, but Onysko hopes the efforts of his company will snowball into an annual act of tree planting supported by other businesses in the Boulder community. Already, The Kitchen Community, Whole Foods Market and Big Red F Restaurant Group are forming teams to help plant, and Whole Foods will be providing a picnic lunch for all volunteers.

“The part of the canyon we’re focusing on is the most visible part of Fourmile with thousands of people driving and riding their bikes up the canyon,” Onysko says.  “We have beautiful mountains, wildlife and trees. As residents of Boulder, we need to become stewards of the land. Acting locally makes a big difference.”

All it takes is a push, and the initiation of this project by Onysko and Pangea could have exponential effects as seedling grows to a tree, a tree makes a pine cone, the pine cone makes another tree and so forth until, finally, the pine and helm forest of Fourmile Canyon once again stands tall and green.