Long after the flames of the 2012 Weber fire were put out, destruction continued in the form of erosion and flooding on area farms.
Farmers and ranchers of lower Weber Canyon rely on the Weber Ditch, which now fills with mud during heavy rains causing flooding on the roads.
"Now every time it rains, we have to take time to clean out the ditches," said farmer Dee Graf. "Water is being lost down the road."
To the solve the problem, farmers teamed up with the National Resource Conservation Service, and the Mancos Soil Conservation District, to replace the Weber Ditch with a pipeline with modern turnouts for water users.
NRCS, an arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is putting approximately $250,000 towards the project, said Joel Lee, NRCS district conservationist.
Approximately 13 farmers who rely on the ditch are contributing a 25-50 percent match.
Patrick Clements, a Mancos soil conservation technician, has been drawing up plans for the project, which is expected to be installed this fall after the farming season.
"It's a big project. We're converting about 7,000 feet of ditch to pipeline to solve the sediment problem," he said. "Water delivery will be more efficient with less evaporation."
Converting ditches to pipelines is also effective salinity control, Clements said.
Besides all the mud in the ditch, Lower Weber canyon has also seen boulders from the burn scar roll onto the road and hay farms.
The 2012 Weber fire scorched 10,133 acres south of Mancos and cost $5.8 million to put out. It was started by a juvenile.
Costs from the fire continue, and the new pipeline is part of the ongoing recovery.
"It's still not cheap to put in the pipeline, but without the NRCS program it would have been too expensive," Graf said. "The cost share made it feasible."