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Boulder County park partially closed since 2020 CalWood Fire will fully reopen in June

heil valley ranch
Posted at 10:29 AM, May 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-13 12:30:30-04

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. — Half of a Boulder County park has remained closed since it was heavily damaged in the 2020 CalWood Fire but after extensive recovery efforts, it will reopen to the public next month.

Heil Valley Ranch south of Lyons was within the perimeter of the 10,113-acre CalWood Fire when it burned through the area in October 2020. The north half of the park reopened in early December, however the south side has remained closed since the blaze. The fire destroyed 26 structures before it was contained on Nov. 16.

On Thursday, Boulder County Open Space (BCOS said) announced the lower half of the park would reopen in full on June 16.

This comes in the wake of extensive recovery efforts to restore the park and remove hazards caused by the fire.

Heil Valley Ranch burn area
Volunteers helped staff spread seeds on the steepest slopes in the Heil Valley Ranch burn area on April 6 as part of the recovery efforts to prevent erosion and decrease flash flood risks.

Crews removed downed and damaged trees, created erosion and debris mitigation, and replaced destroyed amenities for visitors, which included bridges, fencing and parking areas, BCOS said.

In 2021, crews cleared the closed trails, which had become overgrown with weeds.

Currently, the Picture Rock Trail, Ponderosa Loop, Wapiti Trail (north) and Wild Turkey Trail are open and are accessible via the Picture Rock Trailhead. The other trails, which are currently closed but will reopen in June, include Lichen Loop, Overland Loop, Schoolhouse Loop, Grindstone Quarry Trail, and Wapiti Trail (south). In addition, the Corral Trailhead and Main Trailhead will also reopen then.

Heil Valley Ranch current map 2022

The Main parking lot will close at noon every day until Sept. 30 due to flash flood risks, which are common during heavy afternoon storms along the Front Range.

The burned landscape is susceptible to flood and leave mud and debris in areas downhill and downstream. The Main parking lot sits in a drainage area between two creeks where this sort of runoff could gather, BCOS said. Any cars left in this parking lot after noon will be ticketed.

Wapiti Trail at Heil Valley Ranch

READ MORE: Ecologist says intense fires like Calwood endanger regeneration prospects for ponderosa pine forest

In addition, one section of Wapiti Trail will remain closed to protect golden eagles, which built a nest along the trail during the closure. After successfully hatching their offspring in 2021, they returned to nest again this year. This detour will likely remain in place year round, BCOS said. Visitors can use the detour, which is along the emergency access road.

Heil Valley Ranch map after June 16, 2022

Staff hoped to reopen the southern half of the park in time for Memorial Day weekend, however material delays pushed the date farther down the road. Some projects will continue after June 16.

Visitors can stay up to date on any emergencies, including potential flooding, in Boulder County by signing up for messages from the Office of Emergency Management via Everbridge Alerts. For alerts specific to Heil Valley Ranch, use the address 1188 Geer Canyon Road, Boulder, CO, 80302.