The non-drug hemp plant could be an integral part of the reforestation projects that are necessary after large forest fires to mitigate mud slides and flooding, but in 1937 the plant was branded “illegal,” not through scientific evaluation, but by the DEA for political, corporate gain, and social control issues.
The High Park fire burn area in Fort Collins, as well as the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs, were disastrous. The now barren, hydrophobic soil (also known as non-wettability) poses other problems. As The Gazette in Colorado Springs puts it “Soil Takes Over As Top Threat” and we should take this very seriously. Rain washes over the top soil and the result of the ash filled runoff are floods and land slides. Hemp grows very fast and can establish a strong carpet of roots that would stabilize the soil, in specific areas, to help mitigate the damage of erosion. Other plants will take months, and sometimes years, to reveal their sprouting green seedlings.
Forest fires have an impact on local rainfall as well. The heat at the ground level can reach 600◦ centigrade which vaporizes tree tars and plant materials releasing tiny particles (aerosols), into the ground and atmosphere. The ground layer is impermeable and prevents water from reaching the soil. Sometimes this hydrophobic layer can persist for years, especially if it is relatively thick, up to three inches in depth. In the atmosphere, creating high concentrations of aerosols, the local climate is affected by increasing cloud formation and decreasing rainfall. Cloud droplets form around the aerosol particles, but may never grow large enough to fall as rain (researchers with NASA have studied this effect). Large forest fires also have the effect of reducing rainfall, compounding the issue by leaving burned areas more prone to dryness and future fires.
Over time, as plants regenerate and growth resumes, plant roots, soil micro-organisms, and soil fauna will break down the hydrophobic layer. Hemp can initiate this process and accomplish in weeks, what would take months for other plants. Our health and wellbeing comes from the community working together and making our own choices, not from a government that tells us what to do. Coloradoans are very much about States Rights and individual freedoms, as we know about the place we live in. It is our responsibility to implement strategies that work for us, and in the case of environmental stewardship, hemp can help mitigate the damage of forest fires.