From Darkness To Light

22 Aug 2018

Open letter to County Environmental Specialist encouraging revegetation of Horse Gulch Road

Posted by Adam Howell

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Dear La Plata County Environmental Specialist Leslie Jacoby,

IMG_3225[1]I am writing you to convey my concerns with the barren, hard-packed condition of Horse Gulch Road following the attempts that were made to rehabilitate it last winter.

In January, a La Plata County dozer operator filled in ruts, regraded the tread, installed water bars, and widened Horse Gulch Road around the intersection below the Meadow Loop, according to the County Engineer.

Seed was raked into the ground following the bulldozer operation, you said.

For several months, the width of this quarter-mile stretch of road was around seventy feet. At some point an orange barrier fencing was put up to keep people from traveling across part of the road so that it could re vegetate.

IMG_3218[1]After a winter with a lower than average snow pack, followed by a dry spring and a dry early summer, the seed that was put out onto this bulldozer scar did not take root. For now there’s a handful of native sunflowers coming up, and a very short and narrow strip of grass coming up.

Right now, this stretch of Horse Gulch Road is at risk for being taken over by exotic weeds such as thistle. Grasses have trouble proliferating when there’s a bunch of weeds in the way.

It’s apparent to me that the low snow pack last winter and the dry seasons afterwards have made it difficult to encourage native grasses from taking root on this piece of dirt.

IMG_3222[1]At the same time, waiting to add more native seed to the barren dirt until right before the next snow pack might put us behind the curve. We have plenty of rain these days that can help this seed take root.

How expensive is grass seed? How much time does it take to throw it out and rake it in?

If it’s a financial problem, can I or anyone else contribute to help reclaim this bulldozed piece of ground on Horse Gulch Road that is mostly void of vegetation?

The reclamation should be more proactive so that this dirt can be stabilized to keep future storms from washing tons of the dirt down the hill or making new ruts.

I am willing to throw the seed out there, if you don’t have time to.

Reseeding disturbed soils with native grass seed is a common rehabilitation tactic among land managers who have to work with heavy equipment on public lands. Native grasses can help out compete invasive exotic weed species such as thistle.

As a piece of context, Horse Gulch Road–also known as County Road 237–is a county road that runs through the City of Durango’s Horse Gulch open space land.

Before the regrading, there were big ruts in the road that city and county officials were concerned were going to interfere with emergency vehicle response.

The foot print of the road was significantly widened as a result of the regrading that took place.

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