Crews working to prevent mudslides in Fourmile Canyon Fire burn area near Boulder

4:52 PM, Apr 7, 2011   |    comments
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Just don't expect the county to receive a lot of complaints about the pair of helicopters now making regular runs over the Fourmile Canyon Fire burn area.

"I think it's a great day for it," Jack Thompson said on Thursday.

Thompson was one of 169 homeowners who lost their homes when a wind-driven fire raged in the foothills above Boulder last September.

On Thursday, Thompson's property became the staging ground for a $2 million mulching operation to help control erosion. Two helicopters, a Kaman K-1200 (K-Max) and a Bell UH-1 (Huey), spent the morning picking up load after load of straw and dropping it all off on the nearby hillsides.

"There's nothing holding the ground down now," Claire DeLeo with Boulder County Parks and Open Space explained. "The straw replaces the vegetation lost in the fire."

"We're going to mulch about 2,000 acres of the burned area," she added.

She is currently the team leader for the Fourmile Canyon Fire Rehabilitation area. The operation is being largely funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and its Emergency Watershed Protection Program.

It's thought the operation will run upwards of two or three weeks.

The worry is largely built around the prospects of a spring or summer downpour. An inch of rain in an hour or less could spell trouble for much of this land without adequate protection.

"That seems to be the threshold that we're using for the possibility of significant debris flows and flash flooding," Garry Sanfacon, the Fourmile Canyon recovery manager, said. "It could be a significant problem."

Three-hundred-and-fifty acres will see wood straw as opposed to wheat straw. The wood straw is more expensive than the wheat straw and will be used in certain areas where erosion poses more of a risk to existing homes.

Thompson plans on rebuilding on his land sometime in the fall. He's not particularly worried about erosion, because his land is on a gradual slope. He is very concerned about many of his neighbors.

"Just behind us are some really steep areas. That's what they're trying to protect with the mulching," he said.

(KUSA-TV © 2011 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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