GOCO awards $28,350 for wildfire recovery project

Great Outdoors Colorado has awarded $28,350 to San Isabel Land Protection Trust for wildfire recovery and mitigation work to be completed next fall.

Mile High Youth Corps crews will remove noxious weeds, plant saplings and thin overstocked forests on three protected properties in the Wet Mountains burned in the 2016 Junkins Fire.

Crews will remove noxious weeds in tandem with a soil remediation treatment to help create an environment that favors native plant growth in burned areas. They will also plant conifer saplings in burned areas with little tree regeneration. Trees cut from unburned, overstocked forests for wildfire mitigation will be used to create structures around planted saplings to help retain water and protect saplings from elk and deer browsing. 

Some areas burned in the 2016 Junkins Fire have experienced little to no forest regeneration because the fire was so hot that it destroyed the native plant seedbank in the soil. Instead, noxious weeds have taken hold because weed seeds spread easily and thrive in disturbed soils. These areas show more bare ground relative to areas with stronger native plant regeneration, leading to continued soil erosion. The crews’ work will boost forest recovery, which will improve wildlife habitat and overall watershed health. The work also will improve resiliency to future wildfire risks.

In 2018, Mile High Youth Corps crews worked on a conserved property also burned in the Junkins Fire. Crews planted trees and created erosion control structures from downed, burned trees to help forest recovery. The three properties that will receive work in 2022 are near the property worked on in 2018.

Great Outdoors Colorado invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers and open spaces. GOCO’s independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 5,500 projects in all 64 counties of Colorado without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org or more information.

Photo caption: Mile High Youth Corps crew works on erosion control in the Junkins Fire area in 2018. Photo by Greg Smith.

Janet Smith

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