Jul 17, 2014 8:28 PM by Andy Koen

Scout camp closed after 2nd flood evacuation

HUERFANO COUNTY - Around 150 Boy Scouts from Kansas are heading home early from their summer camp near Walsenburg after flash flooding Wednesday night on the burn scar from the East Peak Fire forced them from their cabins.

Huerfano County Sheriff Bruce Newman said he spoke with leaders from the Santa Fe Trail Council of Garden City, Kansas and decided it was time to close the camp for the summer.

"We've determined it's better to go ahead to end the scouts season," Newman said.

The Council, which has owned the Spanish Peak Scout Ranch since 1966, was scheduled to leave on Saturday.

This is second time in this month emergency crews have had to evacuate the camp, which Sheriff Newman says is located in a high risk flood area.

"Just like any burn scar area, there's just nothing to contain the water when it starts raining and we're having a lot more rain than normal," Newman said.

A sheriff's deputy was stationed onsite with the scouts. When the evacuation order was issued at around 10:30 p.m., he and other deputies had the camper board buses from the Huerfano County RE-1 School District to the Red Cross shelter at the Huerfano County Community Center.

Five children were sent to the hospital with minor cuts and bruises suffered during the evacuation. Apparently, two of the kids got hurt after falling either in or near Bear Creek.

"We did have some kids apparently approach the stream that were removed at that point," explained Scout Executive Michael Stewart. "Why they did that is unbeknownst to me."

He said the Council chose to continue camping even after the first evacuation because outdoor experiences are a central part of their mission as an organization. The decision was made with
input from soil and water conservation experts, emergency managers and the Sheriff's Office.

"We did not make that decision in the dark," Stewart said. "We made it with the support of county officials and as usual they have really come forth and helped us in a great way, not only last week, but this week as well."

The scouts mitigated their property to prevent flood damage last year after the fire had burned out. However, Stewart said they couldn't control the storm surge that raced down Bear Creek from the neighboring forest service land where no such mitigation exists.

Sheriff Newman said he and Council leaders will meet with representatives from the US Forest Service and the US Army Corps of Engineers on Monday to evaluate the area and see what other prevention measures need to be put in place.

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