The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest assembled a Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) assessment team to analyze post-fire condition of burned watersheds and to plan emergency stabilization treatments for the following Central Washington wildfires:

(NOTE:  The Chiwaukum Complex includes Chiwaukum Creek Fire, Kelly Mountain Fire, Duncan Fire, Hansel Fire, and the ShooFly Fire. Mills Canyon Fire info is included under Chiwaukum Complex info.)

The interagency BAER 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 the State of Washington.

The BAER team is compiling reports that will identify immediate and emergency actions to address post-fire risks to people, property, and cultural and natural resources. Wildfire can increase the risk of flooding, erosion, and sedimentation. Other potential hazards include debris flow, reduced water quality, invasive plants, or falling trees and rocks. The BAER team report will contain an assessment of watershed pre- and post-fire response, areas of concern, values-at-risk, and recommended short-term emergency stabilization treatments.

Fire locations north-central Washington 08/08/2014

Fire locations north-central Washington 08/08/2014 – click to enlarge

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. Controlled access may be established 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 may occur, along with installation of safety and informational signage in hazardous areas.

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.