Waldo Canyon Fire burn scar: Flooding along Fountain Creek is a major concern

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From The Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka):

A heavy rain over the area burned in last summer’s Waldo Canyon Fire near Colorado Springs could cause significant damage downstream on Fountain Creek. That’s because thousands of tons of sediment and debris could wash down in a severe storm, Carol Ekarius, executive director of the Coalition for the Upper South Platte, told the Fountain Creek Watershed Flood Control and Greenway District board Friday. “Unless we have a ’99 type flood this year, they wouldn’t see the effects immediately in Pueblo, but there are water quality impacts that show up later,” said Ekarius, who is also a professional engineer.

CUSP is working with the U.S. Forest Service, Colorado Springs Utilities and other El Paso County groups to assess the damage from the Waldo Canyon Fire and develop a remediation plan. The group formed after the 11,000-acre Buffalo Creek Fire in 1996, which was the largest in the state at the time. Since then, fires have become larger in scope because of poor forest management. CUSP has been working to restore the 2002 Hayman Fire burn area for more than a decade. The group will unveil an action plan next week in Colorado Springs that will require $25 million-$50 million over several years to complete. About $10 million-$12 million from federal, state and local sources has been committed so far. There is also much remediation and flood prevention work to be done on private land.

The Fountain Creek district is considering whether to ask voters for a mill levy and decide purposes that would be included in a ballot question. “The question this board grapples with is could this be a part of our mission,” said Richard Skorman, who serves as liaison with a citizens advisory group of residents from both counties. “It’s hard to ask Pueblo County to pay for a disaster that happens in El Paso County.”

More Fountain Creek coverage here and here.

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