Thompson Ridge BAER Assessment Update - July 3, 2013
Incident: Thompson Ridge Post-Fire Response Burned Area Emergency Response
BAER Assessment Update – July 3, 2013
JEMEZ SPRINGS, NM (July 3, 2013) – On Saturday, June 29, the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) assessment team provided its findings to managers from the Valles Caldera National Preserve (VCNP) and the Santa Fe National Forest (Forest).
Of the approximate total of 23,000 acres burned by the Thompson Ridge Fire and analyzed by the BAER team, 22,927 acres were Valles Caldera National Preserve, 39 acres were national forest land, and 34 acres were private land.
The Thompson Ridge Fire burn area covers multiple tributaries in the Upper Jemez River watershed that contributes to the Jemez River drainage area. The BAER team analyzed three major watersheds that were burned by the Thompson Ridge wildfire: East Fork Jemez River, Headwaters of San Antonio Creek, and Sulphur Creek watersheds.
Within these three major watersheds, multiple sub-watersheds (smaller watersheds) were affected by the fire. These smaller watersheds were selected by the BAER specialists to evaluate the values-at-risk (VAR) and the watershed response within, adjacent to and downstream from the fire perimeter. A description of the ratings matrix that was used by the BAER assessment team to evaluate the risk level for each of the values identified by the team during its assessment can be found on InciWeb at http://www.inciweb.org/incident/article/3430/18911/. The description for each of the fields used in the VAR matrix can be found at http://www.inciweb.org/incident/article/3430/18912/.
The BAER team produced a burn severity map (http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/maps/3430/) for the Thompson Ridge burned area that displayed the three major watersheds that burned within the fire area that of the 23,965 acres burned within the fire perimeter, the three levels of burn severity of the Thompson Ridge Fire on the soils and watersheds to be: 74% low/unburned severity; 23% moderate severity; and 3% high severity. A description of the BAER burn severity rankings can be found on InciWeb at http://www.inciweb.org/incident/article/3430/18910/.
The BAER team's detailed technical analysis will be shared with interagency cooperating agencies and tribal governments, along with local agencies to facilitate their damage assessment surveys of non-federal lands.
The BAER assessment team evaluated soil burn severity and slope topography to identify opportunities for hillslope treatment to reduce the likelihood of erosion, sedimentation and flash flooding from the Thompson Ridge burned area. The team also identified roads within, adjacent to and downstream from the burned area needing emergency response actions. BAER archeologists recommended emergency stabilization treatments for cultural resources within the burned area that may be impacted by increased run-off and soil erosion.
The initial BAER assessment report requesting emergency response actions and stabilization treatments will soon be forwarded to the Forest Service’s Regional and Washington Offices for their approval and funding. Once the funding is approved, the VCNP and Forest Service will deploy a BAER implementation team to install and implement the prescribed emergency stabilization treatments.
The BAER implementation team will coordinate their emergency stabilization treatments with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), local tribal governments, New Mexico Department of Transportation, and Sandoval County, along with other state and local agencies responsible for flood control and assistance to landowners downstream of burned area federal lands.
NRCS is in contact with the Sandoval County to evaluate potential threats to specific businesses, homes, and neighborhoods adjacent to and downstream from the Thompson Ridge burned area. Federal assistance to private landowners is the primary responsibility of the NRCS through the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program (http://www.nm.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/ewp/ewp.html).
BAER interagency cooperators, stakeholders, and tribal government representatives are coordinating the post-fire response efforts. Contact information for the interagency cooperators involved in post-fire response for the Thompson Ridge Fire can also be found on InciWeb (http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3430/).
SPECIAL NOTE: Everyone near and downstream from the fire area should remain alert and stay updated on weather conditions that may result in heavy rains over the burn scar. Flash flooding may occur quickly during heavy rain events. Current weather and emergency notifications can be found at the National Weather Service, Albuquerque Office (http://www.srh.noaa.gov/abq/) website.