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Mudslides, Road Repair the New Norm Inside High Park Fire Burn Zone

Grace Hood

Charred ground and fewer trees means significantly more runoff from rain and snow as we transition into winter.

That’s a problem especially in Poudre Canyon, where Colorado Department of Transportation officials started seeing mudslides last summer.

Many of those slides blocked traffic and took hours to clean up. CDOT Spokesperson Ashley Mohr says her agency has already spent about $225,000 on clearing dangerous rocks and mudslides since the High Park Fire started June 9.

But the biggest job could still be ahead. Many giant pipes or culverts under Highway 14 needed for water drainage through the canyon still need to be expanded.

“When that vegetation is not there to catch the flow, the culverts will get overwhelmed and the highway could potentially flood,” says Mohr. “So that’s a large part of what we need to be doing.”

For its part, Larimer County estimates culvert repair work in Rist Canyon will cost almost $1.7 million in the coming months. Crews are looking to complete most of their work before snow starts melting this spring.

Editor’s Note: 6 months later, we’re examining different areas of life affected by the High Park Fire. You can follow this series here.

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