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Local grad heads to Brazilian rainforest

Julie Imada-Howard

Brazil’s rainforest ecology could help the Gypsum Fire Protection District fight wildfires here at home.Keddie Taylor, a 2002 Eagle Valley High School graduate, is one of 40 students from across the nation invited to attend an international environmental mission in Brazil. She was recommended for the Colorado Missions Environment program by one of her professors at Colorado State University.

Taylor, who is also a firefighter with the Gypsum fire district, said she hopes the experience will translate into better wildfire knowledge for firefighters here at home.The 19-year-old, who is majoring in biology with a concentration in pre-forestry, said she has always been interested in fire science and ecology. She is currently training to become a wildlands fire squad supervisor for Gypsum fire. According to Taylor’s mother, Karla, a 14-year veteran of the Gypsum Fire Department, her daughter’s experience will be a big help to the department during the summer fire season. Brazil has a diverse environment that includes tropical rain forests and arid high elevation forests. The country also has a history of devastating fires caused by drought and the deforestation of land for development.To help address the environmental and economic impacts of fires, the Brazilian government has developed a variety of fire management response plans and created a national system dedicated to wildlands fire prevention. Taylor’s ecology experience in Brazil could help the department develop better wildlands fire fighting methods and safety precautions. During her trip, Taylor will spend time with various officials of the Brazilian government, environmental grassroots organizations, and international non-governmental organizations. She will also participate in roundtable discussions on a variety of topics, including preservation of natural resources and animals, the impact of air pollutants, soil erosion, and the impact of urbanization. Visits to research labs and the Amazon rainforest will allow Taylor to observe the ecological impacts of development on wildlife, the environment, the people, and the economy.

“I am hoping to learn more about the ecology, habitats and environmental conservation there and compare them to the United States,” said Taylor.Upon her return in June, Taylor will share her experience with the local community and fire district by giving a presentation at the Gypsum Town Hall. She plans to transfer to the University of Idaho next fall.


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