Revitalizing Pine Ridge Burn Area
KREX News Room
MESA COUNTY, Colo. This week the Bureau of Land Management is beginning aerial reseeding of land charred by the Pine Ridge Fire. Nearly 14,000 acres northeast of Grand Junction were burned by the wildfire last summer.
The Pine Ridge fire left a black scar on the Western Slope, for months the BLM has mapping out a plan to heal the devastation.
Jim Dollerschell, rangeland management specialist for the BLM, said, "The fire is still is still very unstable, exposed soils which are prone to erosion."
This is the largest fire the field office has ever dealt with.
"Everything benefits if we can get it reestablished with vegetation. All the way from the local community depending on clean water, less damage to the railroad, plus just the economic and environmental benefits that you get from wildlife and livestock," said Dollerschell.
Revitalizing the area requires just the right recipe of seeds.
One of the pilots for the operation, Brent Wulf, said, "It speeds things up as far as reestablishing vegetation."
"Get a seed mix of perennials, grasses and shrubs on the fire with the hopes of this growing in spring and summer," said Dollerschell.
"What might take five or 10 years to do naturally, we'll do in a year or two," Wulf said.
The larger plane out of the two carries enough seed to cover about 160 acres.
Those involved are proud to take part in such a crucial operation.
"We brought in a fire-rehab team to help put the plan together, which included putting the seed mix together and where we're going to put it," said Dollerschell.
Owner of the aircrafts, Tim Hauder, said, "It's a good feeling. It's something we can do with the airplanes to help out the general public, that normally sees these as crop-dusting airplanes."
BLM officials are confident with the recovery plan, and look forward to seeing the fruits of their labor down the line.
The operation will continue throughout the week and will cost roughly $1 million in total.