Volunteers were hard at work early Saturday on a steep slope near Glen Eyrie that was blackened by the Waldo Canyon fire.
Dusted with soot and ash, the group of 10 raked soil and installed erosion barriers.
“There’s nothing to stop the water from flowing down,” explained Dave Dombach, Glen Eyrie flood mitigation coordinator.
Since the fire raged through the area June 26, sparing the famed castle of Colorado Springs founder of William Jackson Palmer, floods have raised fear.
The castle and about 800 acres around Queen’s Canyon, including Eagle Lake Camp, are now owned by The Navigators, an international Christian ministry. More than 200 of those acres burned in the Waldo Canyon blaze.
Saving the place was a top priority early in the fire. Helicopters dropped water and retardant around Glen Eyrie until they were called to the Mountain Shadows neighborhood, where the June 26 firestorm gutted nearly 350 homes and killed two.
Except for one shed at the camp, Glen Eyrie’s structures were spared from the 18,000-acre blaze.
For weeks, volunteers have worked to mitigate fire damage on the grounds and restore the once-idyllic landscape.
About 75 percent of the land between the castle and the camp burned, said Brett Clark, The Navigators community relations liaison.
“When we left, I thought it was the last time I would see Glen Eyrie as it was,” he said.
The fire stopped atop a ridge overlooking the castle.
“It doesn’t make sense,” Clark said. “There were a lot of people praying.”
The crew Saturday labored high above a trail that leads to Dorothy Falls and the Punch Bowls. Trails throughout the burn area have remained closed hikers since the blaze.
“It’s a rewarding experience,” said volunteer Scott Stenzel, and Air Force captain. He deploys in about a month to Afghanistan and hopes to find time to volunteer again and bring friends the next time.
“I love to be outdoors and doing something worthwhile,” said volunteer Pauline Beaudoin, risk manager for The Navigators.
Even before the Waldo Canyon fire, volunteers were responsible for most of the maintenance of trails and open spaces in the area.
Debbie Bibb, on the Trails and Open Space Coalition board of directors, has worked on many trail projects.
“This is the first time that I’ve been in the burn area,” Bibb said Saturday. “The pictures don’t do it justice.”
The Glen Eyrie work started at Eagle Lake Camp. With government advice, volunteers have felled dead wood and built flood barriers while seeding land.
“We’re learning a lot,” Clark said.
Snow and cold will stop efforts, but heavy rains pose the largest threat in the burned areas.
“We’re trying to get as much as possible done now,” said Kent Santee, Glen Eyrie facilities supervisor. “In the springtime, we’ll continue.”
For many of the volunteers, the work gave an opportunity to learn about how land recovers. Some cactus, yucca and native grasses are growing again.
“Many, many years down the road, I’ll be able to look and know that I was part of the recovery effort,” Bibb said.
Glen Eyrie work days are scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 27 and Dec. 1, 8 and 15.
For more information on the Glen Eyrie Reforestation Project or to sign up to help, contact Kelsey Tippie at 272-7429 or firstname.lastname@example.org.