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Aspen Public Radio plants seeds for environmentally-focused future with local series on climate change

Aspens over Mt. Daly
Lisa DeLosso
Aspen Public Radio
Aspen Public Radio is announcing several local environmental initiatives, including an upcoming news series on trees and climate change in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Aspen Public Radio is announcing several local environmental initiatives as part of the organization’s overall strategy for growth, having just celebrated forty years of service in the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado.

Over the summer, the station moved toward the formal adoption of a flexible teleworking policy for full-time employees; prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, most of Aspen Public Radio’s staff were expected to be in the office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. This initiative is now giving more freedom to employees by allowing them to set their own schedules. Moreover, it also is helping to reduce commuting time and congestion of vehicles along Highway 82 and the roundabout into Aspen—a problematic traffic corridor which has an ‘F’ rating from a 2020 traffic study conducted by Kimley-Horn and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).

Breeze Richardson, Aspen Public Radio’s executive director says, "during the height of the pandemic, when one of our colleagues was living over 40 miles away from the station, they saved over ten hours and 320 miles of driving per week. So we’re very proud to have this option for both the wellbeing of our staff and the health of the environment."

Richardson also shared plans for an environmentally-focused, local news series this fall. In The Woods: Trees And Climate Change In The Roaring Fork Valley will air the week of October 25, and will examine climate change locally, with an emphasis on trees. Aspen Public Radio’s reporters will engage with local sources and research the growing threat of beetle-kill pines in the Valley; the history of the Heritage Fruit Tree Project, and how sustainable permaculture technology is being applied to local tree farming practices; and the U.S. Forest Service’s proposed aspen management plan for more than 375,000 acres in the nearby White River National Forest.

“This series is particularly exciting for all of us at the station as nature lovers, while giving our news team the opportunity to take a deeper look at a global issue through a local lens,” says Richardson. “We’re very thankful to the Longview Foundation of Minnesota for supporting this series.”

Environmentally-focused initiatives will continue to be an important piece of the organization’s broader operational efforts. “Overall, what we’re trying to do is thoughtfully examine our day-to-day practices on a more holistic level, so that we can make smarter, more sustainable decisions across our organization,” continued Richardson.

Additionally, the station is planning to build upon the success it has had with its nascent CARS vehicle donation program, which enables individuals to make a tax-deductible contribution by donating or recycling a car, truck, boat, RV, or motorcycle to Aspen Public Radio. From 2019 to 2020, Aspen Public Radio saw a whopping 15,000 percent increase in money raised from vehicle donations by local residents from Parachute to Eagle, and Glenwood Springs to Aspen—which has translated into thousands of dollars that have been put back into local reporting efforts for the Valley. So far this year, Aspen Public Radio listeners have raised over $20,000 through nearly 50 vehicle donations. “It’s a win-win,” says Richardson. “We’re keeping our community informed and making it a little greener, and it’s all thanks to the generosity of our listeners.”

“Although I just started with the station this June," says Richardson, "I want to build on the ideas already in place and be creative in how we can make positive change. I believe that taking this approach will benefit our entire community in the long run, and help protect the beauty of the Valley for generations to come. In setting this example, we’re thinking globally but most importantly: acting locally.”