Save the topsoil
September 27, 2002
Oh how we need Betty Clark and Pat Sullivan!
They loved and took care of the mountains and valleys in Garfield County. I remember Betty repeatedly stalling an old army transport airplane as she reseeded 5,000 acres on Vulcan Mountain after the Glenwood City dump fire. She did it in one day, as the plane was large enough that Betty didn’t have to keep landing to replenish grass seed.
If 3,000 acres of orphaned Lower South Canyon isn’t seeded from the Coal Seam Fire this fall it will lose all its topsoil from rain and heavy spring snowmelt.
South Canyon is a heavy snow area. Without topsoil Lower South Canyon will sweep sludge into the Colorado River forever. It will constantly muddy the river downstream and quicken the death of Lake Powell. There are no plans to reseed orphaned South Canyon.
For days I watched a helicopter continually land and take off after replenishing straw bales and seed to throw on Mitchell Creek, SOB Canyon, Paradise Canyon and Red Mountain. The irony is that they used South Canyon as a helipad, and yet in their plans South Canyon was not to be reseeded.
It would cost $100 an acre. Glenwood is to pay 25 percent, and find some company to share the cost with the federal government of the other 75 percent. The state of Colorado is not furnishing any land recovery funds for the fire.
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Using helicopters and small crop-dusting planes that had to land often to replenish fuel and seed was an extravagant expense. What took weeks would have taken Betty and Pat days to reseed with the use of larger planes.
They seeded Vulcan Mountain from a higher altitude, but the grass grew abundantly. Betty Clark and Pat Sullivan flew transport planes over the Burma Hump during World War II.
They would be sick to know that the Colorado River will be inundated with sludge from South Canyon because people didn’t act to save her topsoil.