Dozens in our community got a firsthand look at the destruction caused by Colorado’s most devastating fire and found out what’s being done to restore our land.
And organizers want everyone to know that they are in need of volunteers and it will take everyone to rebuild and restore our mountains.
It’s destruction you can’t comprehend until you see it firsthand.
“It's unbelievable that it could be so devastating. You can watch all the news you want or see all the pictures but you don’t understand until you see it in person,” said Linda Harroun.
Around 100 people got the chance to get an up-close and personal look at the destroyed Flying W Ranch.
They toured the nearly two-thousand acres of scorched land and burnt trees.
"To see nothing left of it is just heartbreaking,” said Dee Tetzlaff.
It gave this group a snapshot of how destructive the Waldo Canyon Fire really was.
"Seeing a lot of the devastation it's really opened my eyes,” said Jim Tetzlaff.
While many just wanted to see what they can do to help, for some who lost their home, the tour brought closure through answers, to long burning questions.
"To see where the fire came from and how it came down the hill and how it crossed the street and got to our area,” said Cheryl Dingwell-Keckritz.
The tour really impacted Dingwell-Keckritz who lost her home on Majestic Drive.
“Just seeing the devastation over here and that it was much bigger than just our neighborhood,” said Dingwell-Keckritz.
Not only did the tour open the eyes of the group to what was done, but what needs to be done next.
Experts at different stations educated people on how to restore our land.
"The experts were talking about the process and the time-line of what they have to do and how huge it is,” said Linda Harroun.
The main focus of experts right now is focusing on stabilizing hill slopes, mitigating erosion and flood concerns by building basins to catch sediment, and working on re-vegetation through seeding.
During the tour there were signs of hope, such as green grass already popping up.
But organizers still want people to remember that this is just the beginning.
"This is not over. It's going to be a long process and what we can do over at the Flying W Ranch to restore the vegetation and the environment is going to have a big impact on how we rebuild,” said Cheryl Dingwell-Keckritz.
While it will take time, even up to ten years, and a lot of hands-on work to bring the mountains back to the way they were; they believe if everyone pitches in, it can be done.
As Jerri Marr with the Forest Service has been preaching, “We are all in this together.”
"We evacuated 32,000 and how great it would be if we can just find ways for folks to come back and be part of restoring the land. Whether it be planting a tree, or helping to clean out a ditch,” said Jerri Marr. “But I want to make sure that we find a way to give everybody an opportunity to give back and participate in where we go from here.”
That’s the message restoration organizers want to get out to the community.
The work has already begun, but they will need everyone’s help to bring our mountains back to life.
The tour was presented by three area non-profit organizations and the Flying W Ranch as a unique fundraiser.
Here is a list of local organizations that are teaming up to help restore our land. Check their websites for volunteer events or ways you can help out.
Rocky Mountain Field Institute:
Coalition for the Upper South Platte:
Mile High Youth Corps:
Flying W Ranch: