Big floods may have changed landscape

Hunters headed to northeast Colorado this fall are being reminded to do some homework in advance of the 2014-15 hunting season.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the U.S. Forest Service are saying the September 2013 flood has changed the look of many areas of the forest in the northeast region.

Hunters will need to plan and scout to maximize access.

The flood area impacts six game management units in the northeast region: 8, 19 and 20, and portions of 29, 38 and 191.

“CPW and the Forest Service are both committed to the safety of recreationists on the forest, including hunters and anglers,” said Steve Yamashita, CPW northeast regional manager. “We ask that everyone expecting to access these areas use due diligence by checking the flood info regularly for updates, checking in with local CPW offices, and if possible, scouting your hunting area before your season begins.”

Initial assessments indicate the 2013 flood damaged at least 382 miles of road, 236 miles of trail, four bridges and 42 facilities, along with many natural resources, on the Arapaho and Roosevelt national forests and Pawnee National Grassland.

The most heavily impacted areas were on approximately 230,000 acres of the Boulder and Canyon Lakes ranger districts on the Roosevelt National Forest.

Studies show many roads and trails are severely damaged and the landscape has changed in many areas, including places where soil has washed away to bedrock, and in some cases rivers and streams have changed course.

Debris flows and debris dams are distributed across the landscape and in rivers and creeks. 

“The Forest Service is continuing to assess damage, with the expectation that more damage is possible from spring runoff,” said Lori Bell, ARP Flood Recovery Team leader. “We have begun prioritizing repair work, considering health and safety, wildlife habitat and ecosystem health, public service, and how best to (leverage) funds. Despite changes in the forest landscape, hunting opportunities remain available to those willing to explore.”

Bell and others said the damage will take years to repair, rehabilitate, or stabilize, and in some cases buildings or facilities may be taken down or decommissioned.

Visitors are also cautioned that navigating areas will be different than preflood conditions, and in many cases landmarks are unrecognizable.

It’s also expected that spring runoff and snowmelt may bring additional damage over the next one to three years.

Bell said it is unlikely all areas, roads and recreation opportunities will be returned to preflood conditions.

Hunters and other visitors can learn more about the flood and impacts to hunting at http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/hunting.


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