The process has begun to repair the damage inflicted on the western Colorado landscape by last year's historic Pine Gulch fire.

At one point last summer, the Pine Gulch Fire had grown to be the largest wildfire in Colorado history burning some 139,000 acres. Of course, it was dwarfed a few weeks later by the Cameron Peak fire when more than 500,000 acres were consumed. The Pine Gulch fire was started by a lightning strike on July 31. Drought, unseasonably hot weather, and terrain enabled the fire to burn for weeks north of Grand Junction

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Rehabilitating the Pine Gulch burn scar is a long process the Bureau of Land Management says will be happening over the course of the next year including fence, water source, and trail repairs, sign replacement, reseeding, weed treatment, and road work.

Part of the rehab process is aerial and hand seeding to help restore the vegetation across the acreage. In all, hand crews and aerial crews will reseed about 22,000 acres in areas that are difficult to access due to their location or terrain. Native seeds are spread over burn areas that are unlikely to recover naturally.

BLM Colorado via Facebook
BLM Colorado via Facebook

Pictured above is a Single Engine Air Tanker - knowns as S.E.A.T. These planes are used to drop fire retardant on wildfires but are also used to spread seed in the rehabilitation process. The BLM says seeding with snow on the ground is key to germination and growth success

BLM Colorado says it prioritized more than $630,000 for reseeding and soil stabilization in the fall of 2020 and will use another $3.5 million in the fiscal year 2021 for emergency stabilization and rehabilitation.

Most of us will never see first-hand the devastation of the Pine Gulch fire, nor will we witness the restoration of the destroyed vegetation. However, the efforts being made to repair the damage are essential for ranching, hunting, wildlife habitat, and the surrounding watershed on the public and private land affected by the fire. The impact of the work being done now will have a lasting impact on western Colorado.

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