Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Henry W. Marris III
3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team Public Affairs Office, 4th Infantry Division
MANITOU SPRINGS — A little more than a year has passed since the Waldo Canyon Fire burned 18,247 acres of land in the Colorado Springs area, leaving a lasting impact on the people and environment. One impact the effects of the fire still has on the area is soil erosion during heavy rainfall.
Soldiers from Company C, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, teamed up with the Rocky Mountain Field Institute Aug. 19, in an effort to help combat the effects of erosion due to recent heavy rainfall in the area.
Retired Army Lt. Col. Andy Riter, now field instructor with RMFI, led the group of Soldier and civilian volunteers into Williams Canyon to build log crib walls. Riter said crib walls are built into intermittent streams to capture sediment and debris as well as slow water energy before it gets to the town of Manitou Springs, where the sediment and debris can clog water channels in the town, resulting in flooding.
Riter said RMFI is in a race against time when it comes to building the walls to help prevent flooding, and having volunteers is important.
“The size of our normal RMFI crew is three to five folks helping out,” said Riter. “Having the Soldiers come and help almost tripled our numbers, which means instead of almost completing one structure, we were able to start and get two-thirds of the way through building (each of the three structures).”
Pfc. David Plocharczyk, tank driver, Company C, 1st Bn., 8th Inf. Reg., has been assigned to Fort Carson since June, and this is his first opportunity to volunteer in the community.
“I always like to get out and help out with any community, especially with all that has gone on in this area with the fires and flooding,” said Plocharczyk. “Just to be able to get out there and say I contributed and helped out, it makes me feel good to know I was part of something bigger.”
The Soldiers spent the day working two of the three walls into an intermittent stream bed, relying on teamwork to move large logs, dig into the embankment and clear out larger pieces of debris so the sediment didn’t fill in as quickly. The civilians focused on the third wall.
“I take my hat off to the guys who do this every day,” said Plocharczyk. “It’s hard work, and these guys rely on volunteers to help, otherwise they are doing it on their own.”
Pvt. Jessie Smith-Quinones, tank driver, Company C, said even though it was hard work, it was very rewarding to be able to get involved.
“I see the hard work put into it and it makes me want to do it again,” said Smith-Quinones. “The teamwork is a must. RMFI needs more people to help out, and I’m glad I can be part of it.”