November 19, 2013 Updated: November 19, 2013 at 7:20 pm
The Coalition for the Upper South Platte on Monday unveiled an interactive map that outlines the impacts of the 2012 Waldo Canyon fire, the results from two post-blaze watershed studies and an ever-evolving analysis of the rehabilitation efforts in and around the burn scar.
The project drew a round of applause at the Waldo Canyon Fire Recovery Group meeting, held at the El Paso County Citizens Service Center on Garden of the Gods Road.
"There is a lot of great info on there and a lot of what's been going on in the background that people need to know," said Carrie Adair, the CUSP staff member who led the project and gave the presentation.
According to Adair, the map was built using CUSP time and money. She said the only real expense for her organization was a fee to Environmental Systems Research Institute for the online map service. Adair and her team used a Utah wildfire map as the model and designed their template to fit the Waldo Canyon fire. The blaze devastated more than 18,000 acres of the mountains west of Colorado Springs in June 2012, killing two people and destroying 347 homes.
CUSP, which formed in 1998 and is based in Park County, has been helping with the Waldo Canyon fire recovery. The organization is ready to begin handing off its chores to another group that they hope will be formed as stewards to the Fountain Creek watershed.
CUSP officials Carol Ekarius and Helen Dyer have begun searching for such a group. The pair met with Larry Small, executive director of the Fountain Creek Watershed, Flood Control and Greenway District on Nov. 11 to explore the possibilities for a CUSP-like organization in El Paso County.
Dyer said Small was enthusiastic about his organization filling that role. But she and Ekarius said the group needs to be a nonprofit rather than a government entity like the Fountain Creek district. Ekarius said private land and business owners are more welcoming when a nonprofit such as CUSP offers to help out.
Small will approach his board and begin identifying potential people and groups to head up the nonprofit, which would partner with his organization, Dyer said. El Paso County Commissioner Sallie Clark agreed that officials in the Pikes Peak region need to "wean us off of CUSP at some point, just not tomorrow."