Sunday, May 5, 2013

Project Day: Hermit Park Open Space Slash Pile Burn Scar Remediation 4/6/13

Wow.  What a beautiful property Larimer County has with the Hermit Park Open Space.  Being able to spend a day remediating burn scars on the landscape at Hermit Park was more like a day of enjoying the outdoors with new friends more than it was a full day of work.  The weather forecast leading up to the project day wasn't exactly giving me warm fuzzy feelings.  When the project day finally arrived, we had nothing but sunny skies the whole day.
Casey Cisneros

The day started with all of the volunteers and County staff gathering at the Hermit Park visitors center.  After some chatting over pastries and coffee we headed up the road to the Hermit Cabin picnic area.  We assembled our tools and received a great project overview and example of our work for the day from Casey Cisneros.  Then we formed into small crews of 4-5 and headed out on our own to remediate as many slash pile burn scars as we were able to.

Hydrophobic soil clod
Remediating slash pile burn scars is actually quite fun.  It's sort of a combination of gardening and ecological restoration.  The process starts by clearing remnant debris from the burn scar and using a stiff garden rake to break up the soils.  Many times, slash pile burning causes hydrophobic soils - soils that resist water infiltration due to the buildup of a waxy coating caused by the high heat of a stationary fire - which restricts plant growth on the burn patch.

Preparing the seedbed
After the soils are broken up the seedbed is prepared by raking the soil until the patch looks a bit like a garden bed, the tines of the rake making many small furrows.  Seeds are then thrown out by hand, or using a broadcast seeder.  The next step is to use a floppy metal leaf rake to do the "hop and shuffle"!  I know it sounds silly but this method is extremely effective for incorporating the seeds into the soil without covering them with too much soil.  Essentially, you bounce the rake back and forth across the soil surface, or hop-and-shuffle the rake across the soil.
Finishing touches
Once all of the seeds have been incorporated you finish the remediation process by adding grass litter, pine needles, pine cones, sticks, etc as a form of mulch to improve soil moisture and reduce the probability of seeds blowing away.

Our 4-person crew was able to remediate about 15 slash piles during the course of the day, as a group we addressed roughly 75 slash piles around the Cabin Loop of Hermit Park.  It was really a gorgeous day and was a lot of fun!  Hopefully Trailcology will be able to make back up to Hermit Park this fall to treat some more slash piles, especially since they were able to burn another 75 this spring!

Enjoy the pictures!

Happy Trails,


Demonstrating how to throw seed

Alex talks to us about some of the plants we are seeing

It's not always hard work!

Our Crew!

1 comment:

  1. Coming from Pennsylvania to help with this project is something I will always remember. I learned quite a bit about remediation of slash pile burn scars not to mention spend a day in the beautiful Rocky Mountains! Thanks Chris for sharing your knowledge and your love of nature. I hope to join soothe volunteer day with Trailcology!