- Associated Press - Saturday, May 31, 2014

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) - Diana Witt expected the landscape surrounding her cabin in the mountains of northern Utah to be covered with gray ash and burnt trees, the result of a wildfire that scorched about 3 square miles last year.

Instead, she returned recently to find a green landscape dotted with deer.

The vegetation is a result of a reseeding project by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources mean to prevent mudslides about 10 miles outside the resort town of Park City, Summit County Emergency Manager Kevin Callahan said. Without vegetation to hold the soil together, he said water and mud can be swept quickly across the land.

“This is really what we were hoping for,” Callahan told the Deseret News (https://bit.ly/1jBMs40). “We were biting our nails a little bit late in the fall after the seed had gone in and the rains came, because it could have washed away.”

The lightning-sparked blaze dubbed the Rockport Fire spread to subdivisions near Park City, forcing the evacuation of hundreds of people and destroying eight houses before it was contained last August.

County officials provided sandbags to residents who felt like they needed protection from flooding, Callahan said. The county also worked with the National Resources Conservation Service to install fencing to lessen the threat of mudslides, he said.

Federal grants covered the cost of the fencing at $130,000 and the reseeding project, which had a price tag of $250,000, Callahan said.

“This is going to be really great habitat for all the deer in the area,” he said. “It’s going to be much more fire resistant, so we’re very happy with how it turned out.”

Witt’s cabin in Rockport Estates was among those threatened. She pointed to a scar on the mountainside where a house around the corner burned to the ground. She drove up to her cabin for the first time Thursday since last summer.

“I really do think it’s great,” Witt said. “I was worried about it.”

The proximity of the fire has taught the community to be more aware of the dangers of wildfire, Callahan said.

“The county can educate and fire staff can suppress the fires. But really it’s a property-maintenance issue,” he said. “If you take care of your property, the fire risk is going to be a lot less.”


Information from: Deseret News, https://www.deseretnews.com

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