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Mitigation Project Paying Off In High Park Burn Scar

LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) - Monday brought more concerns about flash flooding in the high country burn areas.

One of the areas of concern is the High Park Fire burn scar. A new mitigation project near Rist Canyon west of Fort Collins is already paying off. The project is pushing heavy rainfall off the road.

For many of those who live in the mountains and foothills the roads are their only way in and out and flash flooding always threatens to shut them down.

Torrential rain over any Colorado burn zone carries with it the threat of flash flooding.

"It's an unusual sight seeing black water with logs and rocks rolling down. Then you get culverts plugging and it starts building up and over-topping the road," said Rusty McDaniel, Assistant County Engineer for Larimer County. "Then you get debris settling out on the roadways and so it becomes impassable."

In the High Park burn area recent rain threatened to push old culverts to their limits.

"With all of the vegetation that was burned we have a lot more runoff, so we were looking to upsize the culverts," McDaniel said.

Larimer County engineers dug into the $1.7 million project by installing seven upgraded culverts through Rist Canyon. Just days after the project was complete the drainage makeover was put to the test. The giant pipes kept the heavy rain and debris that washed through the area off the road and away from traffic.

"The goal is to keep the road open as much as we can knowing that we're going to get a lot of additional flooding," McDaniel said.

Another mitigation project is in the works to protect the area from flash flooding. Larimer County officials say they plan to use helicopters to drop cargo nets of mulch over the area to stabilize soil on steep slopes in the burn area. That work is planned for next month.

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