The aerial application of yellow straw continues to mitigate soil and ash runoff from the mountainous terrain leading to Milton L. Seaman Reservoir, drinking water resource for the City of Greeley, on Friday, July 20, 2012, near Fort Collins, Colo. Red areas are burnt trees with pine needles that will fall tho the ground and form a mulch. Green areas are the remaining healthy trees that provide shade and protection to promote the growth of ground cover plants and shrub. Because of steep terrain, helicopters must be used to quickly deliver 1,800 tons of straw to Forest Service lands, and private and other lands that receive a seed mix and straw to promote ground cover plant growth on ash-covered lands. In total, 1,800 tons of straw will be applied during the 14-day operation. One quarter of the cost was paid by the City of Greeley and the U.S. Department of Agriculture funded the remainder. The Hewlett Gulch Fire was started by a camperâs alcohol stove, on May 14, at the saddle of a picturesque mountain ridge along the Hewlett Gulch Trail of Poudre Canyon, in the Roosevelt National Forest, 60 miles north of Denver. At itâs peak, more than 400 firefighters were battling fires being pushed by 50 mph winds that helped blacken over 12-square-miles of dry ground cover, brush and trees. Many of the trees were already dead and tinder dry from beetle-kill. The water in the reservoir remains clean and clear, while downstream water flow has gone from famous Colorado clear water to nearly black flows of water heavily laden with ash, silt, and burnt debris that recent thunderstorms have already washed down from the mountainsides. USDA Photo by Lance Cheung.
April 29, 2014
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