Lands burned by Red Apple Fire get new lease on life |

Lands burned by Red Apple Fire get new lease on life

Land south of Rifle that was burned by a fire in August will see new life next spring thanks to the efforts of the National Resources Conservation Service, the Bookcliffs Conservation District and Williams Production.The Red Apple Fire started on Aug. 31 and burned 800 acres of pinion, juniper and sagebrush about five miles south of Rifle. The fire was accidentally caused by a homeowner in the area using a weed-trimming device. Heat from the tool that had been set on the ground ignited dry weeds, according to police reports.Next week, thanks to a $40,000 donation from Williams Production, one of Garfield County’s largest natural gas producers, grass and shrub seeds will be sown onto the ground from an airplane, said NRCS district conservationist Dennis Davidson.The reseeding project will take place on private land. Davidson said the members of the Bookcliffs Conservation District contacted landowners who were effected by the fire who in turn let the NRCS know they were interested in the reseeding effort.Then Williams stepped up with a donation. Landowners covered about 10 percent of the cost and the Mule Deer Foundation contributed $1,000, Davidson said.”No federal dollars went into the project” except technical advice from the NRCS, he said.Mountain Airspray of Craig will spread the seeds over the fire area some time next week depending on weather conditions.Davidson said the grass and shrubs he hopes will sprout in the spring will arrest soil erosion and flash flooding that could come in the wake of the fire.”Our biggest goal is to get the grass seed (to grow) and not cheat grass,” an invasive non-native grass, he said.Included in the grass seed mix are various species of wheat grass, bluegrass, Indian rice grass and alfalfa. The plane will also broadcast big sage and saltbush seeds.”We’re hoping the seeds will lay on the ground through the winter and not germinate, and will grow in the spring,” Davidson said. If the weather stays wintry with no major warm periods, the seeds will lie dormant soaking up moisture, then germinate in the spring.Davidson applauded the work of the Bookcliffs Conservation District and Williams’ donation. “It wouldn’t have happened without them,” he said.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext.

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