Our natural resources are overwhelmed by increased usage, climate change and wildfires. As I wrote last month, wildfires have a massive influence on the health of our natural resources. Scarred soil impacts our water supply and human health as the filtration properties in both the vegetation and soil are reduced or lost. The United States Forest Service (USFS) manages and mitigates wildfires through fuel breaks and tree thinning to reduce the amount of fuel available. They consider this “value at risk” when studying areas of land for these prescriptions. The goal is to save human life and infrastructure assets such as buildings, power, and water. The potential water loss due to wildfire is severely undervalued by the market and the public. One hundred-80 million people in over 68,000 communities rely on water for USFS managed forests and grasslands. Healthy reliable water also benefits hunters and anglers, with revenue close to $2 billion annually just from fishing alone. It becomes even more compelling as we begin to value the carbon itself. Though there is no internationally accepted price for carbon. Markets like California have placed a price on tradable carbon ranging around $16/ton this past year. Through September 30th, California fires released an estimated 91 million tons of carbon dioxide. That is $1.4 billion worth of carbon lost. We need massive investment in forest management to prevent the loss of our valuable natural assets. We are investing big dollars in energy efficiency and advances in smart grid power solutions. But our most powerful ally in the fight against climate change does not garner the needed investment. California’s greenhouse gas emissions from wildfires this year alone, far surpasses the amount of carbon release from that entire energy sector. A very daunting and similar scenario has severely injured the State of Colorado’s forests. Since May, over 640,000 acres of forest have burned. We are fighting an extraordinary uphill battle as our natural carbon capturing assets are lost in a matter of days and weeks. With state budgets severely strained, it is imperative that private concerns from industry to investment houses, pay into nature’s care. We all benefit and the call on capital is massive. A new era of eco-investing is needed before it all goes up in smoke. Tom Koehler Sustainable Hiker

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As a Summit County, Colorado Local Tom Koehler, founder of Sustainable Hiker, is passionate about driving people toward solutions for the health of our forests and waters. After many years of success in the capital markets that include stints as Director of Research for a wealth management company and Managing Director on a bond desk at a D.C. bank, Tom recognizes the true crisis that we are in with our forests and waterways and wants to foster a community that participates in its healing through traditional and non-traditional means. 

Legislative Liason to the Forest Health Task Force

Member of the Forest & Carbon Committee for the High Country Conservation Center's Climate Action Plan. 

Member of High Country Conservation Center's Transportation Committee

Board Member of Friends of the Lower Blue 


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