Sen. Cory Gardner toured the Hayden Pass Fire burn scar watershed June 24 with County Commissioner Dwayne McFall and other local officials. McFall organized the tour to seek assistance in receiving federal funds to help pay for flood mitigation efforts in the Coaldale area.
The Hayden Pass Fire burned more than 16,500 acres in July 2016. Parts of the county now are in danger of flash flooding because nearby creeks fill quickly when it rains, and because burned materials wash down and choke culverts and waterways, redirecting water elsewhere. Wildfires not only burn away natural materials that slow the rain down and hold it in place, but they also sear the ground to a hard, baked finish that is difficult for water to penetrate.
The fire mostly burned on federal lands, so Fremont County is seeking federal funding to assist with the aftermath.
More than a dozen homes are in the danger zone. Some of those already have sustained flood damage. Certain projects can be undertaken to mitigate the threat of flooding, but such projects come with hefty price tags the county cannot afford alone. Officials hope Sen. Gardner will pressure federal agencies to assist with funding the projects. The cost to clean the area affected by the burn scar and flash flooding is estimated at $2.5 million.
Others on the tour included Sheriff Jim Beicker, Fremont County Emergency Manager Steve Morrisey, and Fremont County Manager Sunny Bryant.