Forest Moves Forward on Flood Recovery Efforts

by CynthiaB on February 28, 2014

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – The September flood caused extensive damage to many roads, trails, and facilities, along with resource damage and other concerns on the forest. Since then the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest and Pawnee National Grassland (ARP) has continued to assess needs and move forward.

Multiple items of note have occurred since the ARP Flood Incident Assessment Team released its report last November. This initial assessment provided a snapshot of the scope and scale of the flood damage on National Forest System lands.

“There is a great deal of work to be done within the Forest’s flood impacted area and we know that annual snow run-off may result in additional damage,” Lori Bell, Flood Recovery Team Lead, said. “We are doing what we can at this point and know that addressing all the needs will take years.”

A critical item identified in the initial assessment was that due to access issues from the flood, a helicopter is needed to supplement ground firefighting efforts. The ARP will have an exclusive use helicopter from mid-June to mid-September. The helicopter will help with response time to fires, along with the ability to support project work when available. This Type 3 helicopter will be similar to the one stationed on the ARP last season, with the U.S. Forest Service providing leadership and working closely with local cooperators for additional staffing support.

The assessment team’s work with the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) has led to the approval of nearly $2.2 million dollars for qualifying damaged roads on the Canyon Lakes and Boulder ranger districts through the Emergency Relief for Federally Owned Roads (ERFO) program. This work will be implemented by the Central Federal Lands group of the FHA once conditions allow and contracts are in place.

Other activities the Forest is involved in since the flood includes working with municipalities organizations on recovery efforts, including power line reconstruction, fill material, debris flow stabilization and dam decommissioning; implementation of a closure order for many roads and trails due to public safety and resource damage concerns;  and repair of some lower-elevation roads in the flood area.

The forest, working through the Rocky Mountain Regional Office of the U.S. Forest Service, has also received funding to staff a team to help in the recovery efforts. This team consists of a team leader, community liaisons, engineer, hydrologist, recreation planner and reality specialist. Additional positions may be identified as work continues into the spring and summer. This team will work with the forest to prioritize needs and collaborate with partners to share information and resources as appropriate. Some funding has also been identified to start work on other roads, trails, and facilities damaged by the flood.

“Work with our cooperators and volunteers will also be crucial to our recovery efforts,” Bell said.

Visitors are reminded this flood changed the landscape of the forest dramatically. The forest is still full of recreational opportunities, but not necessarily the same as it was before. Use caution in rain affected areas. Additional information is posted at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/floodrecovery.

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