BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — In the foothills north of Jamestown, new life is starting to sprout.
“This is a magical place,” Rafael Salgado, executive director of Cal-Wood Education Center, said. “The land is somehow responding. There’s some areas that three years ago were just ashes, now they’re full of flowers.”
Three years ago, the Calwood Fire destroyed 26 homes and burned more than 10,000 acres, including half of the Cal-Wood Education Center‘s 1,200 acres. The education center is a nonprofit that connects families and kids with the Colorado mountains.
“Cal-Wood has been around for 42 years, and there’s a lot of stories about kids learning on our land, on our classroom and for me to actually watch that classroom burn, it was definitely heartbreaking,” Salgado said.
But the story doesn’t stop there.
“The last three years we’ve had at least 700-900 volunteers every year,” Salgado said.
Working with the community to restore the land, Salgado said volunteers have planted 5,000 trees and worked on erosion control. Last month, the Cemex Lyons Cement Plant donated and helped plant 600 trees at Cal-Wood.
“It’s great that we have companies that care about helping us,” Salgado said. “Fire restoration is not a three-year project. It’s going to take us many years.”
Salgado showed FOX31 a special place on the property that features a handful of trees burned in the fire. The trees have been cut down to stumps and decorated with a silver plaque, unique to each tree, that shows the rings of the tree and the history of the forest.
“Now we have an excellent outdoor lab where we can teach people about fire ecology, firsthand,” Salgado said.
He said the education center’s mission is to educate and inspire generations to come.
“We survived the flood and the pandemic and fire, so I think we can keep going,” Salgado said.
Salgado is working to grow the center’s reach, which relies on donations and volunteers from the community.