The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest assembled a Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) assessment team to analyze the post-fire condition of the burned watersheds and plan emergency stabilization treatments for the central Washington wildfires. The interagency team includes hydrologists, soil scientists, archaeologists, foresters, engineers, biologists, and geographic information specialists. Team members include resource specialists from the USDA Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and State of Washington.
The BAER team is compiling a report that will identify immediate and emergency actions to address post-fire risks to people, property, cultural and natural resources. Wildfire can increase the risk of flooding, erosion and sedimentation, along with debris flow, reduced water quality, invasive plants, and falling trees and rocks. The BAER team report will contain an assessment of watershed pre- and post-fire response information, areas of concern, values at risk, and recommended short-term emergency stabilization treatments.
BAER emergency treatment objectives may allow for a more efficient passage of water to increase protection for infrastructure and watersheds from accelerated erosion, as well as from the spread of noxious weeds within the burned areas. Objectives may also include controlled access in areas where it is not safe for the public to enter, or in areas that require recovery of natural resources without additional detrimental impacts. Hazard tree and rock slide removal along trails and roads and installation of safety and informational signage may be recommended.
Storm-proofing for roads and trails may include removing outside berms, installing critical dips, cleaning debris from culverts, and placement of riprap along drainage routes. The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest is assessing long-term recovery management that may include salvage, reforestation, and other resource restoration activities.
The Natural Resources Conservation Service is cooperating with area counties, cities, and communities to evaluate threats to businesses, homes, and landowners. This website will serve as a central information resource for all of the above activities.