Basalt project designed to heal community and Lake Christine Fire burn scar
Volunteers are being sought for an outdoor project on June 15 that is as much about healing the community as it is healing the Lake Christine Fire burn scar.
Volunteers are needed to reseed areas in the hills above Basalt by hand that were too inaccessible to reseed via airplane or machine. Help also is needed to build check dams and other structures to control water runoff and debris flowing down gulches. Almost all of the work will occur in the Basalt State Wildlife Area managed by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers and Roaring Fork Conservancy are co-hosting the workday. The town of Basalt and CPW are partners.
“It’s the kickoff for this restoration,” said Cathy Click, development coordinator for Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers. Several years of work will be needed in the hills immediately above Basalt and El Jebel and farther up on Basalt Mountain, she said.
CPW started mechanical seeding of the state wildlife area last summer, before the last flames were out of the wildland fire that burned nearly 12,600 acres. Additional seeding was undertaken this spring by airplane. Some areas were too steep to use ground equipment and were inaccessible by air because of power lines, according to Olivia Deihs, program manager for RFOV. Another 486 acres on the lower slopes of the state wildlife area needs to be reseeded.
“That’s what volunteers will get started on,” she said.
This year’s work is an attempt to get natural grasses reestablished before weeds take over the disturbed area. The work in gulches is for erosion control.
The amount of work they get accomplished June 15 depends on how many people show up.
“We’re prepared for a couple hundred volunteers and for families,” Click said.
They think the project will appeal to people because of the impact of the fire, which started late in the afternoon of July 3 last year and threatened both Basalt and El Jebel. Thousands of people were evacuated.
“It impacted so many people in the valley,” Deihs said. “This will start that healing process for the community and ground.”
RFOV is based in Basalt, as is the Roaring Fork Conservancy, so the project has special significance.
“It’s personal for us as an agency but also as a community,” Deihs said.
Volunteers must pre-register by June 13 on the RFOV website at https://rfov.salsalabs.org/lake-christine-fire-restoration-signup/index.html.
On the workday, volunteers will check in at the Basalt Middle School parking lot at 8:30 a.m. Breakfast will be served by the Basalt Lions in their pancake wagon.
Shuttles will take workers to the site, where volunteers will be divided into crews. Volunteers can state a preference for seeding or for hauling rock for erosion control. Administrative help also is needed.
Volunteers should wear long pants, closed-toe footwear and gloves. Tools and guidance will be provided.
Volunteers will be brought down around 2 p.m. and invited to a gathering at the Tipsy Trout, formerly known as the Riverside Grill. Volunteers on the project will receive a voucher for a discounted lunch at the Tipsy Trout and beer donated by Roaring Fork Beer Co.
This won’t be a one-and-done project in the burn scar. Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers and Roaring Fork Conservancy have pledged to host future projects.
“This is going to be a long-term project for us for sure,” Deihs said.
The proposed deal would be a three-way agreement between the town, the developer and the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District.