written by Alyssa Graziano
During the Cameron Peak Fire in 2020, the streamside of Rio RMDC that was once lush with willows, birch, and aspen was severely burned, leaving the stream with a high loss of vegetation, an eroded bank, and important wildlife habitat lost.
The small but beautiful stream that runs through Drala Mountain Center, the Rio RMDC, flows into nearby Elkorn Creek— a tributary of the mighty Cache La Poudre River. The Elkhorn Creek watershed is a diverse and beautiful area; home to many Rocky Mountain species we all know and love such as moose, elk, mountain lions, bobcats, eagles, and mule deer. It is also a habitat for threatened and endangered species such as the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse and the Arapahoe Snowfly.
The ponderosa forests of Drala Mountain Center are fire-adapted, and wildfire is a regenerative process that is a part of the natural cycles of the ecosystem here. However, severe fires as with the Cameron Peak Fire can cause many problems within watersheds, including poor water quality, erosion, flooding, and habitat loss to name a few.
At Drala Mountain Center we are committed to the care and support of this land we all love, and our dedication to mindful land stewardship includes assisting this disturbed ecosystem in the process of recovering and restoring its biodiversity and function as a balanced, living system.
We are partnering with Wildlands Restoration Volunteers, a Colorado nonprofit organization that specializes in ecological restoration work, to develop and implement a post-fire stream restoration project to help support Rio RMDC as it heals from wildfire.
In October, DMC staff along with volunteers and members of Wildlands Restoration Volunteers will help to re-plant native willows along the stream —a simple yet effective way to help the stream recover. These willows will supplement the regrowth of native vegetation that is already occurring two years post-fire, and will help to stabilize the bank, improve water quality, provide valuable food and habitat for wildlife, prevent erosion, and help to reduce the flow of ash and sediment downstream into Elkhorn Creek and the Cache La Poudre River.
Through our commitment to land stewardship at Drala Mountain Center we can restore biodiversity, resiliency, and function to the land. The actions we take now will leave a lasting, meaningful impact not only on the health of the land, wildlife, and people at Drala Mountain Center, but will also be carried downstream to benefit the surrounding land and beings beyond.
When you support Drala Mountain, you help us keep the land healthy for today and for future generations.