Talking Green: The Yampa Valley Climate Crew works toward natural climate solutions

Ryan Messinger
Talking Green
The Yampa Valley Climate Crew aims to connect community members to projects that reduce emissions and increase resilience in our landscapes and watersheds.
Courtesy photo

If you look around, it isn’t difficult to see the toll climate change is taking on the Yampa Valley. It is getting hotter and drier, snowpack is changing, and wildfire risk is at an unprecedented level.

It’s imperative we act now to keep warming below 2 degrees celsius, the target set forth in the Paris Climate Agreement. While reducing emissions in our energy, transportation and waste systems is essential, decarbonization alone is not enough: We must also invest in nature-based climate solutions.

A recent study shows that up to a third of emission reductions needed to reach global temperature targets can be achieved through natural climate solutions, or NCS, which are methods that store and reduce carbon emissions in forests, grasslands, and wetlands.

Many of these practices are simple and cost-effective, and carry additional environmental benefits. We have numerous NCS projects here in the Yampa Valley. All we need is an impassioned labor force to do the job.

Yampa Valley Sustainability Council’s Yampa Valley Climate Crew empowers community volunteers by connecting them to hands-on NCS projects that reduce emissions and increase resilience in our landscapes and watersheds. Climate Crew volunteers work on a range of projects hosted by local environmental agencies, including the US Forest Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Some upcoming events include planting trees along the Yampa River and Elkhead Creek to restore riparian areas, which reduces stream temperatures and increases carbon sequestration. The volunteer group will also be constructing artificial beaver dams on James Creek to create wetlands, which capture and store more carbon per acre than our forests.

Other volunteer projects include reforestation surveys in post-burn areas, beaver mitigation, and wet meadows restoration, all of which play an important role in combating climate change whilst increasing resilience to current and projected changes.

The Yampa Valley Climate Crew emerged in response to the growing environmental threats facing our region, and the rising motivation of Yampa Valley residents and visitors to be a part of the solution. Volunteers of all ages and abilities are encouraged to join.

Projects vary in their level of difficulty, and descriptions online help volunteers choose the right fit. Because climate change affects us all, YVSC believes everyone should have the opportunity to take action.

Climate Crew events take place on both weekdays and weekends from June to October. Additional project days are available on weekdays for businesses and organizations to host a team-building event for their members.

On Aug. 6 and 7, the Climate Crew will be partnering with the Forest Service to restore wet meadows in California Park. This includes building low-tech structures called one-rock dams, which slow runoff, revive natural vegetation and elevate the water table. This project will also aid in the recovery of California Park following the ecological disturbances it may endure in the coming weeks.

Check out the Yampa Valley Climate Crew website for more information and upcoming events at, or contact Ryan Messinger at

Ryan Messinger is the Yampa Valley Climate Crew Coordinator and Natural Climate Solutions technician for YVSC.

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