Fort Collins Utilities is collaborating with Larimer County and the City of Greeley on the 2012 High Park Fire recovery and mitigation efforts to decrease fire-related impacts, including flash flooding, mud and debris slides and impacts to water quality.
Over the past three months, all three local entities, in collaboration with the Natural Resources Conservation Services (NRCS), prioritized mitigation projects for the High Park Fire burn area. Soil erosion in wildfire burn areas is typically treated by the application of wood shred mulch and strategic tree felling to protect and enhance watershed health. To date, all tree felling and wood shred mulching activities are complete in the Cache la Poudre River basin, and mulching continues in Rist Canyon.
Larimer County has refocused their attention from aerial mulching inspections to restoration of roads and bridges in response to recent flood impacts. Consequently, Utilities’ High Park Fire Recovery (HPFR) Team is providing assistance with the completion of their required mulching inspections to ensure grant specifications from NRCS are satisfied by the end of October 2013.
Now that mulching and tree felling measures are in place, the HPFR Team plans to focus on new structural measures for long-term risk reduction within the Cache la Poudre River watershed (the land that drains into our waterways).
Lewstone Creek, located in Bellvue on Filter Plant Road and West County Road 54E, was identified as the next priority for immediate repair. Post-wildfire erosion increased rainwater runoff, and water supply pipelines serving Fort Collins Utilities residents were exposed. Exposed pipelines can be easily damaged by rock, debris, and flowing water and can disrupt drinking water supplies. The HPFR Team identified the problem as an emergency repair need and received approval from multiple federal agencies to perform repairs immediately. It is Utilities’ intent to protect these water pipelines before winter to assure the continuance of uninterrupted drinking water to customers through the coming winter.
Following the completion of work in Lewstone Creek, design priority areas will be evaluated through to identify future restoration and mitigation work opportunities. Future work will ensure the watershed is protected and enhanced as efforts to restore water quality continue.