Hydroseeding occurs annually and is an important part of both below-the-road and above-the-road revegetation.
IPF's compost blanket work, which has been ongoing since 2004, is making a difference in greening up the steep slopes below the Top Cut. Federal highways enhancement grants have been used to fund the installation of compost blankets.
Revegetation throughout the Pass corridor continues to play a substantial role in the Independence Pass Foundation's restoration work. Since 2004, IPF has undertaken a series of "compost blanket" projects on the steep and severely eroded hillsides below the one- and one-half mile stretch of the Pass known as the Top Cut. The Top Cut, where IPF has worked since 1996, lies just below the summit on the west side.
The lack of organic nutrients in the soil limited the natural revegetation of the slopes below the road. Begun on an experimental basis in 2004, the compost blankets have proven over the years to make up for this deficiency. Organic compost impregnated with native grass seed is spread over the slopes with a blower. The annual growth/dieback cycle that plants undergo replenishes organic material, helping the grassy areas to become self-sustaining.
IPF continued its compost blanket application at the Top Cut in 2011 with a new, more "low-tech" approach. Instead of a blower truck and extensive lock-down netting installation, we worked with Axe Trucking to apply compost using its high-speed conveyor that sprayed compost below the road for a distance of 100-120'. This approach was faster than previous projects that used a blower truck and a long hose to move compost further down the hill. Although some areas could not be reached for treatment, we believe that the efficiency and speed of the conveyor system was a significant advantage. We followed up the composting with a hydromulch and fertilizer application.
Federal grants to improve highways, recommended by the Colorado department of Transportation, have been hugely important to IPF's ability to revegetate the once barren hillsides below the Top Cut. IPF has received an additional $52,000 federal highways enhancement grant for more compost blanket treatment.
2011 Compost Blanket Project. The loader dumps compost in the hopper of the high speed conveyor that in turn shoots the material out 20 to 30 feet over the side of the slope below the Top Cut. The compost is deposited for a distance of 100 to 120 feet down the hillside.