Chuck visits former Giants, Braves and Padres home run hitter, Ryan Klesko, and talks trees, carbon audits and clean air. Klesko and fellow baseball player John Smoltz received a letter from the Georgia Forestry Commission’s Carbon Registry, confirming that their 1,600-acre Big “K” Tree Farm is the first forest carbon sequestration project to be registered on the Georgia Carbon Registry. (Video by Hibbotte)
Chuck: Well here we are in a very special green room, this is the kind of green room I like to be in, with my very good friend, Ryan Klesko, legendary baseball player with the Atlanta Braves and with the San Diego Padres, Ryan, it’s so great to have you with us.
Ryan: Nice seeing you.
Chuck: Alright. Fantastic. This is Ryan’s place, Big K Farms, am I right?
Chuck: Well listen, I know that you and your friend, Nat Monday, have partnered together to start a new company called CO-2, I believe. Is that right?
Ryan: Yes sir.
Chuck: And this is all about carbon sequestration and going forward in the future to help offset global climate change. Tell me how that came about.
Ryan: Well, you know, we’re always, you know, reading articles and it’s more and more about, you know, obviously with the climate change and all this stuff, and the pollutions and stuff in the earth, and we really wanted to educate ourself and see what we can do to make it better. And it’s really starting to take on. Obviously, you can go into Walmart and you can see “Go Green” and you can buy shirts and everything. But we kind of wanted to step forward and see what it was more about what we could do. Future generations like Hunter, my son.
Ryan: And maybe his son, someday, to keep it better, you know, breathe clean air and drink clean water, you know and, you know, everybody drinking bottled water, you know. When you and I were growing up we didn’t even think about drinking bottled water.
Ryan: And there’s so many pollutants in the streams and all kinds of stuff. So I want to see what I can do to make this better. And we really started researching and I got together with Nat, who is a really good friend of mine, and see what we can do to get, and use what we’ve got to try to help clean up some of this air.
Chuck: Right. You, here at Big K, were the first person in the state of Georgia to have a complete carbon audit done of your property, and you’ve set an example for others to move forward and do the same thing. So I appreciate that, and I also appreciate what you and Nat are doing together to try to bring awareness and also to try to find a way for people to engage themselves in carbon credits, and actually for landowners to have a benefit from that. Don’t you think that’s important?
Ryan: Well, you know, they’re losing close to 4,500 acres a day, 1.8 million acres a year just on people, you know, going out and developing the land and stuff like that. We’re losing a lot of it. So, for us as landowners, you know, and tree growers, you know, we need to do something to help benefit us to not go out there and grow the threes and just cut them down and help us clean the air. So we’re researching. We’ve got a group of people together. We’ve got lawyers, we’ve got landowners and everything (working) together to help us, you know, to bring that money in to help us let these trees grow the way they’re suppose to grow.
Chuck: If we can find that balance, Ryan, between using the natural resource, because of course, as we know, trees are renewable, organic, natural and it’s important to be able to use that resource, but also to have those lands that are set aside for carbon sequestration and that landowners can get a benefit from that because we want to keep our natural lands natural, don’t we?
Ryan: Oh definitely. You know, keep the streams clean. You know, these trees can grow, you know, and pull carbon in for years and years, and years, and once they get to that certain age ...
Ryan: ... where they’re not pulling as much carbon down, we can go ahead and we can cut them down and use them, replant.
Chuck: Keep that cycle going.
Ryan: Yeah. And not just cut them down and leave them and sell them for development, you know. I mean, it’s a big key and we’re really looking forward to all kinds of answers, and that’s why, you know, I’m calling you, man, about all excited about everything and, you know, we’re just trying to get everybody together and trying to do something, because, you know, we’ve been, like I said, been blessed, and we just want our future generations as well to have what we grew up around.
Chuck: Well finally, let me ask you this, you know, you were absolutely a legendary baseball player and you’ve been out of the game, what, two years now?
Chuck: Retired. I mean, what do you see yourself doing going forward? Do you ever see yourself getting back in the game, a coach, or anything like that?
Ryan: Well, I don’t know. Maybe when Hunter gets older, a batting coach or something like that. You know, I was drafted — a lot of people don’t know this — but I was actually drafted as a pitcher.
Chuck: Oh really?
Ryan: Yeah. And I was left-handed throwing 93, 94 miles and hour and you know ...
Ryan: Let’s take a year off and maybe I can come back as a pitcher.
Ryan: I may go to the minor leagues for a year and just have fun with it. My dream was to become a professional pitcher. But when I hurt my arm right before the draft, I could hit a baseball and next thing you know I’m, you know, a home run hitter and I never really got to pitch again. So I was telling my wife one day, I said, “You know, you never know.” I said, “I may go down there and try to throw in the bullpen again.” Who knows? I’m getting older. But actually, I really enjoyed being time off. I left home when I was 18 years old. I played almost 15 years in the major leagues.
Ryan: And it was just nice to be able to travel when I wanted to travel and to work with this, you know. Like I said, I just want to get back and work, and it’s been a great opportunity to meet you guys and come out here and just be able to help to give back and do whatever I can.
Chuck: Well I’ll tell ya, you might be out of baseball, my friend, but you’re still hitting home runs. So thank you so much for being here.
Ryan: Appreciate it. Thank you.
Chuck: You bet.