Thursday, September 13, 2012

Erosion in the High Park fire area

If you drive up Highway 14 through the Poudre Canyon this fall, you might not really notice the extent of the Hewlett and High Park fires. Some hillsides are black, but many others have green and living trees around the killed and burned areas. In the ten weeks since the fire was contained, occasional heavy rains have promoted the growth of grasses and other herbaceous plants, so that many burned areas now have a new carpet of green. Unfortunately, another effect of the heavy rains that followed the burn is severe erosion. The remains of debris flows crossing the highway are evident in numerous places.

In August, LightHawk volunteer pilot Dan Evans flew CNHP’s Jill Handwerk, Michael Menefee, and Dave Anderson over the burn area, where they took many dramatic photos of the fire’s aftermath.

The hills west of Seaman Reservoir are yellow with recently dropped straw,
 intended to minimize erosion into our drinking-water supply.

The burned slope in the lower left (east of Stove Prairie Landing) has sent substantial debris flows into the Cache la Poudre below.

Debris fans coming off Sheep Mountain are visible in the lower center of this photo, across the road from the Upper Narrows Campground. This area has greened up a lot since the fire jumped the highway here in June.

Erosion along the Old Flowers Road, west of Stove Prairie.

Gullies on the west side of West White Pine Mountain.

Thanks again to LightHawk and Dan for giving us a bird's-eye view of this major disturbance.
Stay tuned for more High Park fire photos.

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