Operation Lorax project honored by national magazine
ELLENSBURG — Operation Lorax, a project that so far has planted about 1,000 trees in the aftermath of last summer’s massive Taylor Bridge Fire, has been selected by USA Weekend magazine as one of 10 operations nationwide for a making a difference award.
The project was developed by Christina Escobar, a coordinator with the Kittitas County/Yakima County Red Cross.
The Make a Difference Day award carries a $10,000 grant. Escobar and the other honorees will be flown to Washington, D.C., to be recognized at a luncheon at the historic Carnegie Library. Her project, along with the others that were selected, will be featured in the April 21 edition of USA Weekend magazine.
Operation Lorax, named for a Dr. Seuss character with a strong loyalty to the environment, is credited with using volunteers to plant about 1,000 ponderosa pines in October along the north side of Lookout Mountain near Cle Elum.
A second phase of replanting for Operation Lorax is scheduled for April 27.
The project also focused on educating local children about the importance of caring for public lands and engaging them in the re-planting of parts of the forests that were devastated by the Taylor Bridge Fire.
“We are extremely proud of Christina and are thrilled that this project has received such an incredible honor,” regional Red Cross CEO Terry Pollard said in a news release. “Christina recognized an immediate need in her community and found a way to get a lot of different people involved in something that is going to have a lasting impact.”
Wildfires, including the Taylor Bridge Fire, burned more than 116,000 acres in Central Washington last season, leaving vast areas scorched and blackened. In some places, the fire burned long enough to reduce the land’s ability to hold rain or snow melt and as a result increased the flooding danger. Vegetation, such as the ponderosa pines planted under Operation Lorax, should prevent erosion and flooding.