Manitou Springs Post-fire Flooding

flood manitou

If Derek is correct in quoting, in his post below, that “The AWR has repeatedly made the preposterous claim that “sediment from logging will rival that of wildfire.”

The below story seems like evidence that suggests that wildfire impacts can be much more severe than that from vegetation treatments and roads using BMP’s.

Here’s a link, below is an excerpt. Check out the videos on that site.
You can also search on “manitou springs flood photos” and find many good ones that are copyrighted.

MANITOU SPRINGS, Colo. – Following a burst of heavy rain over the Waldo Canyon burn scar, a new round of flood waters rushed down into parts of Manitou Springs on Monday.

According to the National Weather Service in Pueblo, 0.43 inches fell in less than 20 minutes. Shortly thereafter, 7NEWS reporter Molly Hendrickson saw brown waters flooding city streets and the Colorado Springs Fire Department reported that the flow of Fountain Creek had doubled.

U.S. 24 was closed in both directions near Manitou Springs at 2:40 p.m. because of flooding. It reopened around 4:30 p.m., when the threat of flooding had subsided.

A flash flood warning was issued for the area earlier by the National Weather Service, covering both the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest burn scars. The warning expired by 4:15 p.m. but a flash flood watch covers the area until 3 a.m. Tuesday.

The watch cited saturated, unstable soils and the potential for heavy rainfall as potential causes of more flash flooding. That rain is possible throughout the afternoon and evening.

As the flood waters subsided in Manitou Springs Monday, El Paso County health officials said they are concerned about the presence of tetanus bacteria.

The bacteria can make humans sick with flu-like symptoms, even paralyze muscles. Emergency responders fear the bacteria may have been carried by the flood waters onto city streets where volunteers are working.

“It’s in dirt. It’s in soils. It’s in feces,” said Manitou Springs Fire Chief Keith Buckmiller. “We just want to make sure the people helping us don’t get hurt,” he said.

Volunteers and residents doing clean-up are advised to get vaccinated. A free clinic will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday at the Community Congregational Church at 103 Pawnee Avenue in Manitou Springs. Vaccinations will be provided while they last.

7 thoughts on “Manitou Springs Post-fire Flooding”

  1. I am no longer surprised by Chicken Little’s propensity to take an exception or uncommon occurrence and declare it to be the norm. Regarding “sediment from logging will rival that of wildfire.” Of course it has happened and will continue to happen where BMP’s and stream side buffer needs are ignored and it will occasionally happen where they were followed. But it is certainly not the norm in current times where compliance with BMP’s ranges from 85 to 95+% depending on the state. And amazingly sound forest management will drastically reduce the acreage of wildfires as we have seen here in an earlier post.

    I am constantly amazed by mankind’s need to reinvent what was already known. From college in the 60’s:
    1) It is all site specific – there is no one size fits all solution. Which is why ignorance and no management is much more damaging than occasional failures of properly implemented sound forest management practices. We have learned and can continue to learn and improve from failures of management practices. When we choose no management, we choose to remain ignorant and we choose not to improve.
    2) Damage from wildfire depends on the following characteristics and their interactions:
    —- a) Damage to soils from fire of any kind is directly proportional to the heat of the fire and indirectly proportional to the speed of the fire.
    —- b) Condition and amount of debris as well as ground vs. crown fire impact the degree of damage.
    —- c) Soil characteristics and moisture content affect the degree of damage.
    —- d) and etc. … …

    Here are some great links on the fundamental principles involved in the impact on soil when planning for controlled burns and in determining the expected consequences and needed actions to minimize soil damage and loss following wildfires:

  2. The critical distinction is that fires cause episodic sedimentation, while logging (plus roads) cause chronic sedimentation. Fish are more adapted to the former and less adapted to the latter.

    Also, remember the very limited evidentiary value of anecdotes.

    • Reductions in fuels lead to reductions in fire intensities, which lead to reductions in wildfire erosion. Also, you cannot say that helicopter logging leads to “chronic sedimentation”. Ground-based logging and well-designed roads don’t necessarily have to cause “chronic erosion”, either. There are offsetting situations, where thinning projects reduce future wildfire erosion. There is also proof that salvage logging can reduce post-fire erosion by getting twigs and branches on the ground, as well as breaking up the hydrophobic soil layer.

    • Since most recreation I see has roads to get to it, and many recreationists are fishing in rivers, creeks and lakes with fish. I am not sure what you mean. Would there be more, better fishing without roads?

      If post- logging sediment is not moving then it’s not clear how sedimentation happens from logging. Depending on the soils, BMP’s, steepness, etc.

      Also I’m not sure that it’s adaptation for fish to die and move back in later when conditions change.

      That’s like saying our human ancestors are adapted to wildfires because they got burned up and then others moved back in to the burned area.

    • TreeD39 = TreeC123

      I gave you links to science and you respond with mantra’s/anecdotes.

      Hmmm, I think that you need to “remember the very limited evidentiary value of anecdotes”.

  3. Derek – Thanks for e-mail. Your article is very good. You make a great case for the return to sound forest management on federal lands and you certainly point out the error of Matthew Koelher’s misrepresentations elsewhere in NCFP where he attempts to negate the impact of nuisance lawsuits used to hamstring the USFS.


    Looks like you missed the part in the article where Derek provided a very significant fact that refutes your comments above. I hope that it wasn’t overlooked because it refutes your beliefs – Integrity is a must in order to have a meaningful discussion? To quote: “Forest Service analysis shows that logging would increase sediment in the city’s water supply by 1.5 percent over “natural levels” for a few years before returning to normal, while wildfire would increase it by 500 percent”. A few years at 1.5% is not “chronic”. While the 500% would last for many more years than the logging job. The logging job is more “episodic” and the wildfire is more “chronic”. Or do you think that Derek has misread the USFS statements? Or has the USFS lied just so they could wreak havoc on the environment?

  4. Of course, post-fire flooding is also another aspect of the “whatever happens” strategy, so loved by preservationists. Or, are we to think that this kind of flooding is caused by “climate change”, just like bark beetles and wildfires?!? *smirk*


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