Colorado wildfire update: Post-fire flooding big concern after blazes decimated vegetation
U.S. Forest Service reports nine of state's 12 fires at 90 percent containment
The Denver Post
As the majority of Colorado wildfires approach 100 percent containment, Forest Service teams are beginning to visit burn areas on U.S. Forest Service lands to assess their vulnerability to flooding, landslides and other fire-related catastrophes.
Nine of the 12 wildfires still plotted on the U.S. Forest Service fire map are at 90 percent containment or higher, including the largest wildfire in 2018, the Spring Creek fire in south-central Colorado.
The aftermath of the wildfires will pose hazards for years to come because hills and mountain sides are stripped of vegetation, according to Forest Service officials. Fire can destroy roads and homes while leaving communities downstream of burn areas at risk of flooding and rock slides, according to Forest Service officials.
The U.S. Forest Service has assembled a team of hydrologists, soil scientists, road engineers, wildlife specialists and fisheries biologists to assess damage caused by wildfires to make recommendations for emergency mitigation work to protect human life as well as cultural and natural resources.
“Everyone near and downstream from the burned areas should remain alert and stay updated on weather conditions that may result in heavy rains over the burn scars,” according to a Forest Service report. “Flash flooding may occur quickly during heavy rain.”
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Studies by Colorado Parks and Wildlife show the survival of elk calves in the Roaring Fork Valley has dropped about 33 percent in the last decade. White River National Forest officials said they need to act to try to reserve that trend. They are seeking public comment on their plan.