We sat down with Will Christensen, president of RidgeCrest Herbals, to discuss BlueHeir, a passion project of his that encourages people to plant trees to fight climate change.
Q: Let’s start at the beginning. How did you come to have a sequoia in your childhood backyard in Utah?
A: My late father developed a love for nature after he was orphaned as a child.
When he was starting his own family in a not-great neighborhood in Salt Lake City more than 50 years ago, he took soil from anyone who brought it. He piled it up and built a mountain in the backyard. He planted trees around it and on one side, he planted two Sequoiadendron giganteum (giant blue sequoia).
He would spray down the branches, causing an evaporative cooling effect, and I would cool off during hot summer days in their shade.
We would talk with and receive counsel from my father under those trees. Being my father’s son, when I built a home for my family 25 years ago, I planted a giant sequoia in my yard.
Q: How big is your sequoia now?
A: It’s 51 feet high with a base circumference of 13 feet. We have tables and chairs under it, and my kids and I talk there and make family decisions, just like I did with my dad.
The bottom branches are trimmed high enough so I can walk under them to be close to the trunk, sit under the tree, meditate, and watch the fish in the nearby pond.
Our annual RidgeCrest Almanac was an idea that came to me there. The Almanac is a work of heart, with contributions from our company family on how to live a happier, healthier, more active lifestyle.
One day while sitting under the tree, I realized that there was a bigger purpose for my dad’s work and that I needed to look more into how sequoias capture carbon. We know they date back to ancient times, can live for thousands of years, and may sequester more carbon than any other tree. They have the power to help clean up the Earth.
There’s a belief that all sequoias need coastal conditions to grow and become mammoth objects that hold carbon, convert carbon monoxide, and create a microclimate. And there is an amazing microclimate for coastal redwoods in California.
But my mission is to prove to people that you can grow a sequoia in lots of other places. There are several different types of sequoias: dawn redwood, giant sequoia, and coast sequoia.
I believe we can get thousands of sequoias out there. Mine is a giant sequoia, which has leaves that can draw moisture from the air.
Q: Tell us more about BlueHeir and how people can get started with sequoias.
A: I travel a lot for my job with RidgeCrest Herbals. Owner Matt Warnock believes in supporting people and their passions; it’s a core value of the company. So when I’m out and about, if I can find a sequoia in an area, I film and document it on TikTok and Instagram.
BlueHeir’s mission is to build urban forests that will last generations to revive the Earth. Researchers know trees and forests are good for human and environmental health and have a positive impact on reducing environmental pollution.
People can learn how to document Tree Equity Scores by measuring the trunk circumference, height, and canopy of trees growing where they live and become activists for creating urban forests.
There are many great resources online to discover the right tree to plant for your home. It might be a sequoia, anoak, acypress, oracedar. If you leave a sequoia to your family for them to protect and treasure, that tree will continue to be a carbon credit for many generations to follow.
My children decided on their own that after I am gone, they will protect our tree.