LITTLETON, Colo. (CBS4) – Nearly one month after a wildfire forced evacuations in Deer Creek Canyon, the last trail closure has been lifted. Signs of regrowth are already visible, according to Matt Robins, the Community Connections Manager for Jefferson County Open Space.
“It’s hard to believe that we’re sitting under this structure that was surrounded by fire but if it wasn’t for the efforts of those first responders to stand here with those fire hoses and hold it back, it’s in rather pristine condition,” said Robbins.
While his department has done a lot of the recent work to open Deer Creek Canyon Park, Robbins is quick to credit the first responders.
“I think it was 58 different agencies came together in that 72 hour span to get to where we are today,” Robbins said.
On Tuesday, Jefferson County Open Space reopened the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail, which was closed due to erosion concerns.
“We didn’t know when the next rainstorm was going to come but we knew it was coming and so our natural resources team mobilized and came out and put out actually about a quarter mile of erosion control barriers and just last weekend with the significant rain, it was clear that was much needed,” said Robbins.
The material, called waddles, saved the entire hillside from washing away. For Robbins, it’s more than just good land management, it’s good teamwork.
“It took all of us and I think my biggest takeaway is what a positive message, that this community can rally so quickly and really hold this fire to what this was,” said Robbins. “While 25 acres us scary and the potential was great, we’re very very thankful that it was able to be held at that level.”
Robbins said there was concern that nothing would grow back. The hotter the fire, the less likely root structures will survive, but on Thursday, Robbins pointed to all the new vegetation and the healthy soil below.
“You can scuff at the dirt and see that there’s some actually soil underneath and that the fire didn’t burn so hot that it permeated some of the plant life and it’s root structure underneath. We’re starting to actually see some greenery come out even though we’ve had all these hot days this last month,” said Robbins.
Jefferson County will have some work to do in areas too scarred from re-growth but all trails are back open. Officials say the area is still sensitive and ask that hikers and bikers stay on the trails.
“It is important that we remain diligent with understanding the danger of fire. In this particular case it was human caused and that is really the tragedy in this message but the second part of that is to respect the land. You can really cause some significant changes to the ecosystem just by straying off,” said Robbins.
The fire was reported on Aug. 15. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office confirms two juveniles were spotted running from the scene. Officials with the sheriff’s office told CBS4 on Thursday they are still investigating leads.
– Visit CBSDenver.com’s Colorado Wildfires section.
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