Forest Service Emergency Response-BAER Program Overview and Highlights
Incident: Thompson Ridge Post-Fire Response Burned Area Emergency Response
Emergency Stabilization-Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Program
Soils and watersheds are two of many resources that are affected by wildfire. While many wildfires cause minimal damage to the land and pose few threats to the land or people downstream, some fires cause damage that requires special efforts to prevent problems afterwards. Loss of vegetation increases the potential for erosion to occur, water run-off may increase and cause flooding, and sediment may move downstream and damage houses or fill reservoirs, putting endangered species and community water supplies at-risk.
The Emergency Stabilization-Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) program assesses watershed conditions to identify imminent post-wildfire threats to human life and safety, property, and critical natural and cultural resources on National Forest System (NFS) lands, and take immediate actions, as appropriate, to manage unacceptable risks.
BAER PROGRAM OBJECTIVES
Assess post-wildfire watershed conditions, map burn severity of soils, identify critical values-at-risk, and threats to those values.
Assess overall changes to soil productivity, hydrologic function, and watershed response to precipitation events within the burned watersheds.
Determine where and what kind of soil and watershed emergencies exist related to human health and safety conditions, and critical natural and cultural-heritage resources.
Alleviate emergency conditions to stabilize soil; control flood water, sediment and debris movement; prevent impairment of ecosystem function; and mitigate significant threats to life, safety, health, property, and critical downstream values-at-risk.
Monitor the implementation and effectiveness of emergency response actions.
BAER PROGRAM HIGHLIGHTS
- Emergency Stabilization-Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) addresses immediate post-fire emergency situations with the goal of protecting human life and safety, property and critical natural and cultural-heritage resources.
- Forest Service BAER assessment teams are established as the fire nears full containment to evaluate the post-fire effects on burned NFS lands.
- Burned-Area Emergency Assessments are rapid evaluations conducted on NFS lands to determine if critical values are at risk due to imminent post-fire threats and to develop appropriate actions to manage unacceptable risks.
- These assessments are not intended to provide a comprehensive evaluation of all wildfire or suppression damages, to evaluate post-fire damages after they occur, nor to identify long-term rehabilitation or restoration needs.
- The emergency stabilization response actions prescribed in the assessment reports may be adjusted as new information is received during implementation.
- Emergency stabilization actions primarily focus on severely burned areas where water run-off will be excessive in order to mitigate risks to human life, safety, and property.
- Emergency response actions are prescribed in the following order: natural recovery, administrative closures, and other demonstrated effective measures to manage unacceptable risks to human life, property, and critical resources.
- Implementation of the prescribed emergency stabilization actions is started as soon as it is safe and materials and resources are available.
- BAER implementation teams aim to install the emergency actions before the first damaging rain event that may threaten human life, safety and property or critical resource values needing protection.
- Emergency response actions must be implemented within the first year from the fire, but may require maintenance or repair up-to three years.