Mountain Air Chief Pilot Tim Booth, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran, uses his keen depth perception and piloting skills to hovers over a 4-man load crew below who are attaching a cargo net with 1,400 pounds of straw to a remotely controlled release system, on Friday, July 20, 2012, at Seaman Reservoir, near Fort Collins, Colo., during the continuing aerial application of straw to mitigate soil and ash runoff from the mountainous terrain leading to Seaman Reservoir, drinking water resource for the City of Greeley. The A-Star Model B (3-blade rotor) aircraft is holding a 100-foot cable pickup point at the reservoir spillway. He will then lift the load of certified straw for aerial dispersal onto barren, burned out tributary lands surrounding the reservoir. Forest service lands received straw, while private and other lands 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 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.
May 1, 2014