Upper Cucharas River Watershed Pre-Fire Assessment & Treatment Identification

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Project Summary

JW Associates completed a project that has resulted in a comprehensive pre-wildfire assessment of the Upper Cucharas River Watershed and the identification of watershed protection projects. The following tasks are part of this project -

  • Cucharas River Wildfire/Watershed Assessment

  • Small-scale Watershed Hazard Prioritization and Targeting

  • Identification of Watershed Protection Projects

  • Identification and Analysis of Post-fire Sediment Basins

The Cucharas River Wildfire/Watershed Assessment has been completed. It identifies watershed hazards, uses hazards to prioritize, and recommends measures to protect those watersheds that provide or convey critical community water supplies from the adverse effects of post-wildfire hydrologic changes, including flooding, erosion, debris flows, and deposition. The report also contains an opportunities and constraints analysis that identifies potential next steps for watershed protection.

The second phase of this project completed an assessment of hazards in small-scale watersheds (7th level watersheds) in the Upper Cucharas River. This analysis included some of the analysis completed at the larger scale assessment but also added sediment transport and deposition analysis.

The third phase of this project focused on identifying watershed protection projects in small-scale watersheds identified as the highest hazards in the two assessments. The report focused on identifying three separate projects; vegetation management areas, sediment basin locations and road/stream crossings that were undersized or inadequate.

The last phase of the project was a site-specific evaluation and design of post-fire sediment basins and identification of undersized culverts. This report provides locations, design and capacity information for 38 sediment basins in the Upper Cucharas River Watershed. 

JW Associates is now working with Huerfano County Water Conservancy District, Huerfano County, and the Towns of La Veta, Walsenburg and Cuchara on post-fire recovery following the Spring Creek Fire of 2018 which burned much of the assessment area. The analysis and documents that were produced in this project were used extensively during fire suppression efforts and now during recovery. The post-post-fire sediment basin location analysis is being updated based on the actual burn severity and used to locate and implement sediment basins designed to protect water supplies and communities.