Denver based company, Vail Resorts, Inc. announced September 28, 2009 that
it, together with the U.S. Forest Service and the National Forest Foundation,
will contribute to a $4 million, three-year project to restore habitat
devastated by Colorado’s worst fire in history. The 2002 Hayman
fire destroyed 600 buildings, including 133 homes, and burned trees and
vegetation on about 215 square miles. Erosion from burned areas caused
sediment to build up around Cheesman Reservoir, creating a threat to a
main source of water for Denver homes.
Most of the project’s work will focus on about 70 square miles of the most severely affected areas in four watersheds feeding the Upper South Platte River. More than 200,000 trees will be planted, plus willows, dogwood, grasses and sage to restore river areas.
According to Tom Sullivan, state director for the Nature Conservancy, without man’s help it may take 500 years before the forest restores itself.
About 65 percent of the water people use, including for farms and drinking water, comes from watersheds under the management of the Forest Service., About 75 percent of the water supply in Colorado comes through national forests. “The mountains are
the water towers of the West,” according to Rick Cables, director of the Forest Service in Denver/
Denver Water, the owner of Cheesman Reservoir, has already spent $8 million planting seedlings, building sediment traps, repairing roads, installing bigger drainage pipes and doing other work to protect the watershed.
[Source: Dan Boniface, 9News.com, 9/28/09]