LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. (KDVR) — An hour west of Fort Collins, dead trees still line the landscape as far as the eye can see. 

It’s been nearly two years since the Cameron Peak Fire tore through this area, burning more than 200,000 acres in late 2020. 

At the time, firefighters spoke of the difficulties of accessing the fire with limited roads and tough terrain, an issue fire mitigation crews are now dealing with as well. 

“Most of it is inaccessible to a vehicle,” said Randy Gustafson. “You can’t get up into here, so you can’t do anything.”

Gustafson is the water source supply manager for Greeley Water, which has been battling Cameron Peak runoff problems ever since the fire.

Dirt, ash and trees continue to drain into the Poudre River, one of the main sources of the city’s drinking supply. 

“It’s a huge issue,” said Gustafson.

But while ground vehicles may have a difficult time getting into the area, there is another option; approaching it through the air. 

Western States Reclamation is now using a helicopter to drop mulch on specific high-threat areas of the burn scar. 

“Using the helicopter saves us a lot of time,” said Shealynn Waller. “If we were trying to do this using a truck, or god forbid by foot or horse, we’d be up here the rest of my lifetime. It’d be a really long time.”

Each run takes the helicopter less than 10 minutes, with quick turn-around times key to the operation. 

By the time the pilot returns with an empty bag, ground crews have another 1,500 pounds of mulch ready to scoop up in a different bag. 

Waller says the mulch is ground up from dead Cameron Peak trees returning to the landscape in a different form. 

“We’re using what’s here already,” she said. “It’s a cool idea, using what is here already to help regrow what has been burned.”