The Flood Incident Assessment Team on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests, established following the September floods, has completed the draft initial assessment providing a snapshot of the scope and scale of flood damage and risks to Forest facilities and infrastructure. The assessment is the initial step to determine long-term repair and rehabilitation needs on the Boulder and Canyon Lakes ranger districts.
The assessment report covers approximately 609,000 acres that were preliminarily surveyed by both land and air as access allowed. The Forest cooperated with the Federal Highway Administration during this assessment to produce Damage Survey Reports for roads under the Emergency Relief for Federally Owned Roads program.
Initial Assessment Findings:
• A total of 232 roads (382 miles), 70 trails (236 miles), 4 bridges, and 42 facilities were damaged by flooding.
• Multiple debris slides exist throughout the flood area with at least one covering two miles and crossing several land ownerships and roads.
• Piles of flood debris are deposited in streams and culverts and lands throughout the forest, many of these debris flows and piles may contain hazardous materials.
• Many roads, trails, and recreation areas are unrecognizable with ground cover washed away to bedrock.
• Due to access loss, fire suppression assets need to be reconfigured in order to respond to wildfires that could threaten values at risk located in inaccessible areas.
• Annual run-off and snow melt is expected to result in additional damage over the next one to three years.
Although the full extent of damage across the forest is unknown, the infrastructure damage estimates in the report are considered a good initial assessment. Investment needed in roads, trails, facilities, ecosystems, and personnel may increase as more thorough assessments are completed and if additional damage is sustained over the winter to infrastructure compromised by the floods.
There is clearly much work to be done on National Forest System lands. Next steps for the Forest include providing an organization to address these needs, identifying additional assessment work that is needed, continuing work with the FHWA and setting priorities of the work that needs to be done. The timeframe for addressing all of these needs will take years.
Many roads and trails remain closed. Please use caution in all rain affected areas. Information about road status, closures and the assessment is posted at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/flood2013.