Community Foundation launches NoCo Fires Fund to restore watersheds

FORT COLLINS — The Community Foundation of Northern Colorado has launched a fund to help restore watersheds damaged during recent forest fires.

The NoCo Fires Fund will contribute toward recovery of rivers and streams in the region,  with the goal of raising $1 million. The Fort Collins-based Bohemian Foundation will match the first $250,000 donated to the fund, according to a press release. The Community Foundation will leverage that funding to secure additional private, state and federal resources.

“The investment we can make together in NoCoFires Fund will have positive impacts for decades,” Bohemian Foundation executive director Cheryl Zimlich said in a prepared statement. “This Community Foundation fund supports erosion control efforts that mitigate further degradation, as well as long-term restoration of vegetation and water quality. With this matching grant, we are standing with many generous Coloradans and the Community Foundation to help our region begin to heal.”

Mitigation in the Poudre River alone is expected to cost $50 million due to the Cameron Peak and East Troublesome fires, which burned more than 400,000 acres in Larimer and Grand counties.

The Colorado Department of Natural Resources is working with the Community Foundation in the effort. Dan Gibbs, executive director of CDNR, worked as one of 1,400 firefighters battling the Cameron Peak Fire.

“This was perhaps my most intense deployment in over 13 years,” Gibbs said. “The Cameron Peak wildfire burned some of our most pristine watersheds that will require both emergency protection and long-term restoration to protect our water supplies, mitigate flood threats, and preserve the outdoor economic engines Coloradoans depend on. I’m grateful for the Community Foundation’s support. These dollars fill a crucial need to support communities that are already experiencing economic stress by funding emergency protection efforts and assisting with local cost-shares that can leverage additional funding through recovery grants.”

Donations to the NoCo Fires Fund can be made at https://nocofoundation.org/fires/