Southwest OR. -- The Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest has been working on forest-wide Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) assessments, in coordination with other cooperating agencies and organizations. The assessments will determine forest emergency stabilization needs as a result of the large fires that occurred on the forest this year.
There are three phases of recovery following wildfires on federal lands: fire suppression repair, BAER and long-term recovery and restoration. Fire suppression is a series of immediate post-fire actions taken to repair damages sustained as a result of fire suppression activities. This work usually begins before a fire is contained in order to repair hand and dozer fire lines, roads, trails, etc.
BAER is the second phase of recovery, and is a rapid assessment of burned watersheds completed by a BAER team to identify imminent post-wildfire threats to human life and safety, property, and critical natural or cultural resources on National Forest System lands. The assessment is completed in order to take immediate action to implement emergency stabilization measures before the first major storms occur. BAER assessments are required for any fires that are 500+ acres in size.
A BAER assessment has been completed for the Hendrix Fire (887 acres on RRSNF lands), which was located adjacent to the Ashland watershed on the Siskiyou Mountains Ranger District. Critical values identified included trail infrastructure, botanical resources, critical habitat for Northern Spotted Owl and cultural resources. The assessment concluded there no imminent threats to these values from the post-fire landscape that would result in unacceptable risk, and therefore, no treatments were prescribed.
The Miles Fire (17,746 acres on RRSNF lands) burned near Prospect on the High Cascades Ranger District. The BAER assessment was coordinated with the Umpqua National Forest and was recently completed. Emergency treatments proposed for funding include installation of hazard warning signs, road stabilization treatments, noxious weed detection and removal and cultural site protection.
The Natchez Fire (4,471 acres on RRSNF lands) burned near Happy Camp and also on the Wild Rivers Ranger District. The BAER assessment was coordinated with the Klamath National Forest. Emergency treatments proposed for funding include installation of hazard warning signs, road stabilization treatments and noxious weed detection and removal.
BAER treatments for the Miles and Natchez Fires will commence as soon as funding approval has been received.
A Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation (BAER) Team is now in place to complete assessments for the Taylor/Klondike Fires that burned on the Wild Rivers and Gold Beach Ranger Districts. The team includes a team lead, soil scientists, hydrologists, engineers, archaeologists, recreation specialists, fish biologist, botanists, geologist, GIS specialist, public information officer and a liaison officer to assist with outreach to local communities.
The team will be working on assessments, in cooperation with other agencies and stakeholders, in preparation of a report that will identify any rehabilitation treatments needed on National Forest System lands and working cooperatively with the Bureau of Land Management on the Taylor Fire BAER assessment. The BAER team will be highlighting assessment work on the Rogue River-Siskiyou NF web page https://www.fs.usda.gov/rogue-siskiyou and social media accounts.
The final phase of wildfire recovery, known as long-term recovery and restoration, utilizes non-emergency actions to improve fire-damaged lands that are unlikely to recover naturally and to repair or replace facilities damaged by the fire that are not critical to life and safety. This phase may include restoring burned habitat, reforestation, other planting or seeding, monitoring fire effects, replacing burned fences, interpreting cultural sites, treating noxious weed infestations and installing interpretive signs.
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