Flood Recovery on National Forest System lands: A look one year later

One Year ago | Flood recovery process + photos | The Future | Note of Thanks

One Year Ago September 2013

Flooding in Camp Dick Campground

Flood Event: Unprecedented sustained heavy rains began on Sept. 9, 2013 and increased on Sept. 11 when major flooding began in Boulder and Larimer counties causing significant damage. The flooding was declared a disaster by President Obama on Sept. 15, 2013. The area affected by the flood covered more than 609,000 acres of NFS land and a vast area of private land.

Initial Response: At first 260,000 acres of NFS was closed to all entry. The Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland’s (ARP) initial response to the flood was to ensure public and employee safety. Initially 260,000 acres of National Forestland was closed to all entry.

Fort Collins Interagency Dispatch Center assisted Boulder and Larimer counties with assembling resources from the start of the flood, continuing through recovery operations. ARP personnel were dispatched to assist with the incident including the Roosevelt Hotshots. A helicopter and staff temporarily stationed in Fort Collins also assisted.

The ARP worked closely with counties to ensure that closure orders supported rescue and recovery actions and resolved access issues for residents.

Many ARP fire personnel worked in response to the September flooding, serving in close coordination with affected counties, the National Guard and the U.S. Army to rescue and provide initial support to local residents, under the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Additional ARP fire personnel staffed the Fort Collins Dispatch Center and filled roles on the two Type-2 Incident Management Teams employed by Larimer and Boulder counties in response to the flood.

Flood Impact Assessment Team (FIAT): On Sept. 16, 2013 the Forest Supervisor established a Flood Impact Assessment Team (FIAT) to rapidly assess damage and imminent risk to facilities and infrastructure caused by the flooding. Seven to nine two-person teams surveyed damage on the ground or by helicopter from Sept. 20 to 27, 2013.

Approximately 463,000 acres of the assessment area had to be surveyed by helicopter due to inaccessibility from damaged or destroyed state and federal highways, county and Forest Service roads.

The FIAT completed their field work on Sept. 27, 2013 assessing 609,000 acres and 365 roads, totaling 557 miles, 17 bridges, and 168 facilities including recreation sites, administrative sites, recreation residences and several hiking trails.

The assessment was released on Nov. 8, 2013 and provided a snapshot of the scope and scale of the flood damage and risks to forest facilities and infrastructure.  The assessment did not include damage to other resources such as fisheries, range, etc. 

Read the Flood Impact Assessment Report

Recovery-  A work in progress September 2014

Select photo for a larger view

Camp Dick Campground Glen Haven Picnic Area

Middle Saint Vrain Creek meanders through Camp Dick Campground

 Flood waters, Camp Dick

The picnic table and restroom at Glen Haven Pre-flood

Before the flood, Glen Haven

A campsite in the Camp Dick Camground in post flood condition.

Damage, Camp Dick

A restroom sits on a pile of debris after being moved by the flood.

After the flood, Glen Haven

Campers occupied the newly repraired campsites within minutes of their opneing.

After repair, Camp Dick

Glen Have Restroom and Picnic area decomissioned

After decommissioning, Glen Haven

Recovery Team Formed

In January the Forest established a seven-person flood recovery team to focus in 2014 on:

  • Safety: Addressing public and employee safety issues.
  • Restoration in a changed landscape: Prioritizing work needed to stabilize, repair, relocate or decommission facilities and infrastructure, and restoring dynamic ecosystems that are sustainable and appropriate within the limits and opportunities of this changed landscape.
  • Public Service: Providing public service through working with communities, partners and volunteers to resolve issues, leverage funds, and expand our recovery efforts.

The Flood Recovery team has focused on what was needed not only to address damage to our roads, trails and facilities but also to develop a strategy to restore dynamic ecosystems in this changed landscape. As the Flood Recovery Team has worked across the impacted area, we have found some areas are not damaged as much as we thought and some are much worse than we had hoped.

Recovery Team Accomplishments through Sept. 2014:

  • 145 mile of road repair
  • 45 miles of trail repair
  • Repairs at two campgrounds, three trailheads, four picnic sites, one boat ramp
  • Provided expertise and consultation in the removal of the Idywilde Dam and ongoing restoration of the site
  • Decommissioned three picnic areas where the land base was no longer viable
  • Removed a severely damaged  fishing pier for safety
  • Developed a resource strategy for addressing the rehabilitation and restoration of ecosystems

Much of this work was accomplished because of partners, cooperators and volunteers who allowed us stretch our funding.

Learn more in the September Issue of the Flood Recovery Update (pdf, 657KB)

The Future-  The next  phase in recovery

The Flood Recovery Team logo

Considerable work is ahead of us as we continue our recovery work and address the future of treasured locations in this changed landscape. Our work is about one-third complete.

Some locations may never be the same and still others may need additional environmental analysis to relocate roads, trails and other infrastructure. The Flood Recovery Team will focus on ecosystem restorations while continuing to repair roads, trails and facilities. 

A Note of Thanks

Poudre Wilderness Volunteers repair flood damaged trailsWe appreciate the continued patience of those who value this special area; the eager volunteers ready in wait for the next phase of recovery; our partners and cooperators who we have gotten to know even better and found creative and new ways to work together. As we move along in recovery please know that we couldn’t do it without you.  Thank you!