The interagency Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team for the central Washington fires assessed post-fire conditions and made recommendations for emergency stabilization treatments after the September lightning storms that ignited more than 100 fires across the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest and other adjacent lands. The team’s recommendations listed post-fire emergency actions to protect people, property, and cultural and natural resources. Regional Forester Kent Connaughton subsequently approved $486,879 in funding for these projects.
The BAER team identified post-fire threats such as mudslides, flooding, hazard trees, reduced water quality and invasive plants. The listed short-term emergency actions are expected to be completed within one year. BAER funds are limited to cost-effective emergency treatments on national forest system lands.
On non-federal lands, the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) provides flood prevention assistance to private landowners through its Emergency Watershed Protection Program. The NRCS has conducted damage survey reports for private land adjacent to and downstream of burned areas.
The Wenatchee Fire Complex burned over 58,000 acres within Chelan County on the Wenatchee River, Entiat, and Chelan Ranger Districts. This area includes the Pyramid, Klone, Mt. Cashmere, Poison, Peavine, and Canyon fires. BAER funds for this area include over $259,000 to remove debris from ditches, install gates and remove culverts, protect recreation infrastructure, and erect burned area hazard signs. Funds will also pay for storm patrols to reduce risks from high sedimentation and catastrophic road drainage failure.
The Okanogan Complex burned 13,547 acres and included the Leecher, Buckhorn, Hunter Mountain, and Goat fires. Funding for this area was approved at just under $24,700 to improve road drainage, install gates, and establish a storm patrol within the Methow Valley Ranger District in Okanogan County.
The Table Mountain Fire burned about 42,600 acres. Approved funding of over $202,500 will improve road and trail drainage by clearing culvert inlets, installing water bars, removing culverts, and improving stream crossings. Funds may also protect heritage sites, establish storm patrols, and erect gates and signs in hazard areas.