LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — The largest wildfire in Colorado history left scars that are visible months after it stopped burning. The Cameron Peak Fire scorched more than 208,000 acres, including plenty of popular hiking trails across Roosevelt National Forest.
Many trails remain closed due to severe fire damage. Matt Cowan with the Canyon Lakes Ranger District said the main concern now is the erosion impact from snowmelt and rain.
“Most of the root mass and vegetation beneath the soil is gone which is going to result in a lot more erosion as we get that moisture runoff,” said Cowan.
Cowan said if mitigation measures aren’t put in place, portions of popular trails could wash away.
“This is really valuable trail infrastructure that millions of people enjoy every year. We want to keep providing that opportunity,” said Cowan.
Roaring Creek Trailhead is one of the impacted routes. Cowan said work has already started to remove a bridge on the trail that could potentially be washed away, but it will take much more work to reopen certain trails by summer.
Jeff Randa with Poudre Wilderness Volunteers is leading a campaign to raise money for repairs, with the hope of reopening as many trails as possible.
“This is the first time we’ve ever done a crowdfunding campaign, just because of the severity of the fire and the need for resources,” said Randa.
The goal is to raise $25,000 through a GoFundMe campaign. Most of the money will go toward labor and lumber to help build things like bridges and retaining walls. Randa says they’ve already received inquiries from people wanting to volunteer.
“The outpouring of people wanting to help, even more than the money, has been pretty touching,” said Randa.
Cowan asks people to respect trail closure signs and check the status of a trail through the U.S. Forest Service before heading out.