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Bannock County holds urgent meeting on Charlotte Fire re-seeding

Bannock County is held an urgent meeting on Tuesday for the land owners affected by the Charlotte Fire, trying to get a needed re-seeding program underway before the first snows hit.

As the Charlotte Fire raced through the area it charred away the grasses, trees and shrubs that hold the soil in place and soak up water..

“If we get some real severe rainstorms, or we get some real heavy snowfall, the runoff could be devastating,” Bannock County Commissioner Howard Manwaring said.

The National Resource Conservation Service conducted a scientific survey to look at exactly what kind of problems the area could see.

“We did discover that erosion rates could be quadrupled within the burned area. Some of the water runoff rates, the hydrologic impacts, we could have 20 times more water flowing off the site,” NRCS Area Conservationist Dave Schmidt said.

Within the next few weeks, the county hopes to have helicopters in the air dropping tons of hybrid grass and mulch mixture.

But just because the county and NRCS want to do this reseeding, doesn’t mean they can. About 80 percent of land burned by the Charlotte Fire is private.

“In order for us to make this work, the landowners have to sign off on this,” Manwaring said.

The NRCS said the problem of erosion iss made worse by the drought which hasn’t allowed for much of any new growth in the fire blackened areas.

“Many people would have liked to immediately go out and seed, but we’re in the middle of a pretty dry period here. We’ve had essentially no rainfall since the fire. The fire scar looks almost similar to what it did three months ago,” Schmidt said.

To pay for the project the county will have to match a $750,000 grant from the federal government with either funds or with man-hours.

The county said it needs to get release waivers from all affected landowner by Oct. 1.

Click here to find a printable version of that form.

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