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Crews Begin Four Mile Fire Rehabilitation from Air

In the foothills above Boulder, a $2 million effort is underway to re-vegetate lands blackened by last fall’s destructive Four Mile Canyon wildfire. The blaze scorched more than 6,000 acres and burned 169 homes, but officials say devastation is still a concern because of spring flooding.

"Everything’s been burned off so there’s nothing in these drainages to hold the water when it comes down," says  Boulder County plant ecologist Claire DeLeo.

DeLeo, who's leading up the county's fire rehabilitation efforts, says the straw will act as temporary vegetation that should hold heavy rains, and keep water from sliding down the mountainsides.

The event is common in the months following major wildfires.

"You’ll have these drainages open up and you’ll have all the mud and rock coming out of these," DeLeo says. " We’re not going to see mudslides, it’s not like California."

The effort is funded by state and federal grants.  It’s also happening thanks to a few courteous landowners who have offered up their property as a staging area. 

Landowner Jack Thompson lost his house a couple of drainages away in 1989’s Black Tiger Fire.  He rebuilt here, only to have the flames engulf his home again last September.

"I’ve been hit twice, from two canyons with the wind blowing exactly the wrong direction both times.

The re-seeding effort will take about three weeks, maybe longer depending on the weather.  The goal is to drop mulch on nearly 2,000 acres of land above homes and property now vulnerable for debris flows.