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Mitchell Creek reseeding effort blossoms

Post Independent Photo/Kelley Cox
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS – For the past three weeks, Connie Eckert has noticed the explosion of colorful wildflowers along Mitchell Creek.

The West Glenwood resident takes walks “all the time” along Donegan Road, which intersects Mitchell Creek at the western edge of Glenwood Springs, just north of Interstate 70.

The bountiful wildflowers – mostly poppies and cornflowers – even inspired Eckert to send the Glenwood Springs Post Independent an e-mail message, urging a staff photographer to document the splendor.



“The only thing I could think of that could explain all those flowers was the great runoffs we had last year,” she said. “I figured all that water had moved those seeds downstream.”

Coincidentally, at the same time Eckert was sending her e-mail message to the Post Independent, Mike Kishimoto of the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service in Glenwood Springs was sending his own e-mail to the paper.



Kishimoto explained that last Sept. 27, the NRCS organized a tree planting and reseeding project with a group of Glenwood Springs High School students.

During the high school’s Homecoming week, students participate in a community service project for a half day. About 20 kids chose to reseed about a half-mile of Mitchell Creek that had been ravaged by the Coal Seam Fire in June 2002 and drowned by mud slides in August.

“Well, how about that?” said Eckert when told of the students’ project. “All this time, I thought the water had brought those seeds down. It’s wonderful the students took the time to seed. The flowers are just wonderful.”

Dennis Davidson, district conservationist for the NRCS, said the project came together after Kishimoto and GSHS science teacher Joe Mollica, both affiliated with the Springers Track Club, talked about reseeding the burned-out, muddy section of Mitchell Creek on veterinarian Allen Bowles’ ranch property.

“The NRCS is the only agency that does work like this on private land,” Davidson explained.

He said the agency typically covers 75 percent of each project’s cost, and asks for 25 percent to be covered either by the landowner or through volunteers. The NRCS accepts in-kind contributions, like the students’ labor.

Davidson said West Canyon Tree Farm of New Castle donated 15 aspens and 15 cottonwoods, and a nursery in Fort Collins, Beauty Beyond Belief, donated all the grass and wildflower seed the students used.

On Wednesday morning, Davidson proudly showed off a cottonwood tree that had been planted on the banks of a bend in Mitchell Creek.

“This tree has grown at least three feet since the day the kids planted it,” he said, standing next to the nearly six-foot cottonwood. The young trees replaced burned trees along the creek’s banks that had to be cut down after the Coal Seam Fire killed them.

“There were 30 to 40 burned-out trees and deadfall in here last year,” Davidson said, talking above the steady rush of the creek, and pointing to the re-seeded stretch of Mitchell Creek, now green and bursting with blue and red flowers. “The reseeding and replanting has also brought a lot of birds and wildlife, like honeybees and woodpeckers, back to the area.”

Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518

cclick@postindependent.com


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