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Flooding dwarfs rehab effort

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Caldera > Crews at the Valles hampered by limited resources

By Arin McKenna

Flood impacts from the Las Conchas and Thompson Ridge fires are likely to pose an ongoing problem in the Valles Caldera National Preserve for many years to come, affecting roadways, the watershed and the historic district. VCNP staff is working to stretch limited resources as far as possible to mitigate the damage.
Erosion will continue to be a major problem in high intensity burn scar areas until vegetation is able to take root.
Most areas affected by the Thompson Ridge fire experienced moderate burns, which actually encourage growth. But high-intensity fires hit areas such as Redondo Peak, as well as the majority of the regions impacted by Las Conchas.
Reseeding those areas is virtually impossible, due to the steepness of the slopes and the hydrophobic — water-resistant — soil high-intensity fires generate. However, efforts are underway to address this.
The Caldera’s Watershed Program Manager Scott Compton outlined some steps the preserve has taken to slow runoff and reintroduce vegetation.
“We did a little reseeding with the barley up there, but we have a couple of issues with that,” Compton said. “We don’t want to incorporate invasive weeds with anything up here. So that kind of halts the use of mulch, and also the use of seed.”


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