SALIDA, Colo. (CBS4)– The National Forest Foundation announced this week that it is taking donations to help with restoration efforts in the White River National Forest, specifically in areas impacted by the Grizzly Creek Fire.
The foundation works alongside the U.S. Forest Service and while it helps with forest restoration projects across the nation, it has contributed more than $13 million to efforts focused in the White River National Forest. With the Grizzly Creek Fire, it says recent calls for donations are more critical than ever.
“The White River National Forest has always been one of our focus areas because it is one of the most visited national forests in the country so we’ve been working on that forest for almost a couple decades now and have made some significant efforts to date and this is just the latest effort in that,” said Marcus Selig, Vice President of field operations for the National Forest Foundation.
Selig says while Burned Area Emergency Response Funds (BAER) will help with immediate needs, the NFF is looking at the long-term picture, which will become clearer once the fire is out.
“So, there’s going to be a slew of work but it’s going to be a while to get in there and asses it,” he said.
Even without a clear picture for now, Selig has an idea of the work that will need to be done.
“There’s likely to be a lot of standing dead trees following the fire and where those trees are near parking lots or trailheads or trails, we’ll have to do some hazard tree removal,” he continued, “Trail repair is probably going to be needed for trails that intersected with the fires path and replanting in areas that burned severely that won’t regenerate on their own, we’ll have to put some trees in the ground and give the forest a kick start on regrowing.”
While there isn’t an exact timeline on regeneration, he knows for severely burned areas in the White River National Forest, it could take years.
“There’s areas across the west now where we’re seeing such high severity burns that the forest won’t bounce back for decades- where the seed source has been eliminated the soil has actually been somewhat sterilized, and forests just aren’t going to regenerate for quite some time unless they’re replanted and even then it can be challenging.”
Selig says he hopes those who know the area and love to recreate around the White River National Forest, consider donating. The NFF has set a goal $100,000.
“Fortunately some of the stuff that we were really concerned about, like Hanging Lake, appears to have escaped the worst of it but we know that there’s going to be needs for erosion control following the burning,” he said.
People who wish to help in the aftermath of the fire can donate to the White River National Forest Restoration Fund, which will go towards helping the National Forest Foundation restore natural areas that were destroyed by the Grizzly Creek Fire. The website for the fund states “Because of the canyon’s steep slopes and the severity of the burn, much of this area will not recover on its own and needs our help.”