Volunteers reseed grassland burned by Ordway fire | VailDaily.com

Volunteers reseed grassland burned by Ordway fire

ORDWAY, Colorado ” Volunteers have begun planting native grass seed on about 4 1/2 square miles left bare by a wildfire around Ordway in southeastern Colorado last month.

The fire charred a total of about 14 square miles, killed two firefighters and destroyed eight homes.

The grass-planting got under way Saturday, a day later than planned because of high winds.

The seeds must be planted less than an inch deep in order to germinate, but that puts them at risk of blowing away, especially if the area doesn’t get rain, said Frank Grant, Crowley County land use administrator.

Ed Hiza, one of the planters, said growing the grasses is tricky.

“It’s very expensive, and there’s no guarantee it’s going to work,” he said. “If we get some moisture, we’ll be all right. If we don’t, it’s going to be a wreck for a long time here.”

The county received $125,000 worth of grass seed on Friday. Planting crews are rushing to get it into the ground by Thursday, a deadline set in the grant. If they miss it, the county might lose the remainder of the grant.

County officials say most of the land being seeded has been fallow for several years because the rights to irrigation water have been sold to city utilities.

“I fear this can happen everywhere else that water’s being sold off the farm ground,” Hiza said.

Grant said donors have been generous since the fire.

“The Mennonite church from Ulysses, Kan., came up with probably 18 to 20 people just to help on the cleanup effort. The fairgrounds building is full of clothes and appliances (for) people who lost their homes. We really appreciate it,” he said.

“As for the rest of the recovery, it’s just going to take time.”

Authorities said the fire was accidentally started by a trash and hay fire that hadn’t been extinguished. They recommended against criminal charges.

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