The next step: Reseeding begins for Red Apple Fire land
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Blackened ground left by the Red Apple Fire south of Rifle last summer will turn green this spring. Local landowners, Williams Production, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Bookcliffs Conservation District banded together last fall to plant grass seed on the burned area. This Saturday, volunteers will plant 3,000 juniper and pinon trees to bring the land back from the devastating fire.
The Red Apple Fire, which started on Aug. 31 and burned 800 acres, was accidentally caused by a homeowner in the area using a weed-trimming device. The tool had been set on the ground, and heat from it ignited dry weeds, according to police reports.
Last fall Williams Production, Garfield County’s largest natural gas producer, donated $40,000 for grass and shrub seeds. Also supporting the effort was a $1,000 donation from the Mule Deer Foundation. The seeds were sown over the burn area in early November from an airplane, said NRCS district conservationist Dennis Davidson.
“The grass should start coming up any time,” he said. He also worries that the new grass will have to compete with extensive areas of cheat grass, an invasive plant. “Basically we want to get some cover out there to prevent erosion,” and prevent sediment from the burned area getting into nearby streams.
The Rifle High School football team, coaches and parents have volunteered to help plant the trees in exchange for a “sizeable” donation to purchase football helmets, said Williams spokeswoman Susan Alvillar.
She said the tree planting was possible because there was money left over from their donation for the grass and shrub seeds. “They asked if we wanted the remainder back and we said, ‘No, let’s just purchase some trees.'”
NRCS has requested that landowners interested in having trees planted on their land let them know how many acres they want planted.
Volunteers will meet at the Giles property, 3707 County Road 320, at 8 a.m. to begin the planting. Kelly Rogers, of the Colorado State Forest Service, will give a tree planting demonstration. Williams will provide a box lunch and will host a barbecue dinner for the community at 5 p.m.
“It’s going to be a really fun day and a day of community,” Alvillar said. “Our idea was to bring people together … and do something good for the environment and the community.”
For more information about the project, call the NRCS district office at 945-5494, ext. 101.
Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. 16605
Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO
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