Mountain West Helicopter pilot Thierry Richards, releases one ton of straw from his Bell UH-1H helicopter on to a burned out area of the Poudre Canyon mountainside near Fort Collins, Colo., on Friday, July 20, 2012. This is an aerial application of straw will mitigate soil and ash runoff from the mountainous terrain leading to Seaman Reservoir, drinking water resource for the City of Greeley. Forest Service lands receive 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 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. Their efforts have successfully kept water in the reservoir 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 5, 2014
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