Lake Christine Wildfire Restoration Unites Community

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On Saturday, June 15th, 300 volunteers came together with Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and the Roaring Fork Conservancy to heal the burn scar in the Basalt State Wildlife Area. It was clear the wildfire had an impact on more than the landscape, affecting the hearts of the community and driving the project.

Last year’s devastating Lake Christine Fire forced the evacuation of thousands of residents and burned 12,600 acres above Basalt, Colorado. Even with last year’s reseeding efforts via aircraft and machinery, nearly 500 acres were left unseeded. Volunteers were needed to hike into steep, exposed areas to hand-seed thousands of native plants and create rock check dams to slow destructive runoff. New vegetation growth and small rock dams help ensure the slopes remain stable and that the natural ecosystem can recover.

Saturday morning began early with a hearty pancake breakfast. Standing side by side with family, friends, and strangers alike, the volunteers gathered at Basalt Middle School to learn more about the day’s work. Volunteers in that ambitious group ranged in age from under 4 to over 70 years. The community that assembled to restore the damaged land was an uplifting sight.

After a heartfelt thank you from the project partners, the volunteers loaded into shuttles and drove to the project site on Basalt Mountain. Upon arrival, they were handed five-pound burlap bags of seed – a native mix including mountain mahogany, muttongrass, penstemon, and prairie junegrass. The volunteers were separated into crews and set out across 500 acres, both on foot and in the beds of trucks. After hours of hiking across varied terrain, carefully spreading and covering seeds, the seed bags were emptied and the rock dams were in place.

The Lake Christine Volunteer Project was the first public restoration project on the burn scar. The support of 300 volunteers and a group of dedicated partners contributed greatly to the project’s success. Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers is extremely grateful for everyone who helped to hand-seed acres of wild land across the Basalt State Wildlife Area. Even with the tremendous progress from this project, there is still more work to be done. The restoration of the Lake Christine burn area is a long-term project that will require more volunteer efforts in the future.

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Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers gives a special thanks to the project partners: Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Roaring Fork Conservancy, Defiance Rafting, Alpine Bank, Aspen Skiing Company, Basalt Lions Club, Pete McBride Photography, Roaring Fork Beer Company, The Tipsy Trout, and the Town of Basalt.

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