Helicopters are hovering near Horsetooth Reservoir for a responsive, cooperative project to protect the reservoir’s water quality in the wake of the High Park Fire.
Helicopters are dropping an erosion control seed mix and straw mulching materials on about 40 acres that suffered the most soil burn severity within the 400-acre burn area in the Soldier Creek drainage, which sits in Lory State Park on the west side of Horsetooth Reservoir.
The helicopters, from contractor Western States Reclamation, will apply a seed mix of native species. The seeds are large, with the expectation that they will break through the fire-caused debris and establish roots without requiring much moisture. Helicopters will also drop straw mulch, then a layer of wood straw on top, to retain moisture, shelter the seed from the wind and provide soil erosion protection.
Experts expect the project to trigger plant growth in the Solider Creek area, creating a filter to prevent debris, erosion and sedimentation runoff into Horsetooth Reservoir, a key water source for area cities.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service is providing much of the technical and financial support for this $91,320 project, which is part of its Emergency Watershed Protection Program. Other sponsors are Northern Water, the cities of Greeley and Fort Collins, and the Tri-Districts (the North Weld County, Fort Collins-Loveland, and East Larimer County water districts).
The helicopters, which are staged within Lory State Park, first took off Thursday morning and will likely finish Saturday.