High Park Fire Small Watershed Targeting Prioritization

Project Summary

JW Associates worked with a coalition of water providers, and local, state and federal agencies on targeting watershed protection and restoration projects in the High Park Fire burned area. The High Park Fire burned a large area west of Fort Collins, Colorado that is a major water supply source area for the Cities of Greeley and Fort Collins. It burned 87,200 acres on multiple land jurisdictions and was the largest and most destructive fire in the history of Larimer County. Our work on this project included creating a watershed targeting approach that focused the watershed restoration projects to the highest hazard areas, working with agencies to create and implement a new watershed protection method (directional tree-felling in gullies), and, directing and modifying mulching operations throughout 3 seasons of implementation. JW Associates created priorities, mapped areas to be treated, lead the implementation of over 7,000 acres of mulching and designed and managed compliance for federal agencies that were funding the projects. 

JW Associates advised the High Park Fire Restoration Coalition on the most appropriate mitigation measures, used a variety of GIS data sources to target areas to be treated, field-verified the locations, monitored the implementation and managed the compliance monitoring and reporting. The working environment was especially challenging due to the emergency nature of post-fire mitigation work. The directional tree-felling in gullies was especially challenging. We worked with the US Forest Service on the methods, completed a pilot project in a small burned watershed and then implemented the method on over 9 miles of gullies. Following the flooding of September 2013, many of the directional tree-felling areas were examined to determine how well they functioned and the conclusion of the NRCS was that they functioned well even with up to 12 inches of rain in 3 days.