High Park Fire mitigation work announced totaling $3.5 million

FORT COLLINS, Colo. - Fire mitigation work, totaling $3.5 million, will begin on Sunday in the High Park Fire burn area.

Trucks will haul tons of wood mulch to staging sites in Poudre and Rist Canyons, where helicopters will drop the material on non-federally-owned hillsides that were badly burned during last year's fire. 

A total of approximately 1,700 acres will be treated this year.  Residents and citizens driving along those canyons need to be aware of the helicopters and truck traffic that will be performing the work beginning Sunday.

In 2012, a partnership of Fort Collins, Greeley and the Tri-Districts spent $3.5 million to treat about half of the 5,500 acres identified as the most severely burned. The Natural Resources Conservation Service provided $1.3 million for the treatment.

Many of the treated hillsides have begun to regrow and stabilize. Larimer County says they have obtained access permission from all necessary landowners.

Congress passed legislation this year to provide additional Emergency Watershed Protection funding for this phase of mitigation by co-sponsors Larimer County, and the Cities of Fort Collins and Greeley.  The goal is to complete projects that will decrease fire-related impacts, including flooding, mudslides, and impacts to water quality. The Natural Resources Conservation Service has oversight of the restoration project management and fund distribution based on agreements with the co-sponsors. 

The NRCS Emergency Watershed Protection grant provides 75 percent of the cost of watershed mitigation, with local communities providing the remaining 25 percent. 

Mitigation efforts are expected to help minimize mud slides, erosion and water quality impacts.