Roseburg, Oregon, Oct. 4, 2020 – A Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Team started on Saturday, October 3, in Roseburg, Oregon to begin their assessment of the Archie Creek Fire. The fire covered slightly over 131,000 acres within the Umpqua National Forest, Roseburg Bureau of Land Management lands, and neighboring state and private lands.
BAER is an emergency program aimed at managing imminent unacceptable risks to human life and safety, property, or critical natural and cultural resources from post-wildfire damaging events. The primary purpose of the BAER program is to assess and prevent damage from rain events on burned areas.
The Team, comprised of U.S. Forest Service & Department of Interior employees who specialize in multiple resource areas, is conducting field surveys and using science-based models to rapidly assess watersheds on all lands, then inventory values at risk and determine the need for emergency measures and treatments on National Forest lands. The Team will share any areas of concern outside of national forest lands with the appropriate federal, state, and county agencies so they can work with individual landowners under their respective authorities.
Team members will closely assess the watersheds for post-fire rain related impacts such as increased flooding, debris flow potential, and increased soil erosion. The Team then recommends various treatments and time critical treatments to be completed before the first damaging storm event. Those recommendations are submitted as a proposed stabilization plan to the Umpqua National Forest and the Forest Service Pacific Northwest Region (R6) for approval. Once approved, the Forest will receive funding to complete stabilization efforts within the fire area.
Treatments will be installed within one year from the date of full containment and may be monitored for up to three years.
It is anticipated that the fire assessments will be completed by mid-October 2020 with the stabilization plan implemented by the Umpqua National Forest Supervisor shortly after.
For more information regarding this BAER assessment, visit https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/7176/, or contact Dev Dharm Khalsa at email@example.com (907) 232-6890 or Anne Poopatanapong at firstname.lastname@example.org (971) 201-9489
Background BAER information:
Critical Values considered during Burned-Area Emergency Response include:
Human life and safety on or in close proximity to burned National Forest System Lands (NFS).
Buildings, water systems, utility systems, road and trail prisms, dams, wells or other significant investments on or in close proximity to the burned NFS lands.
Water used for municipal, domestic, hydropower, or agricultural supply or waters with special state or federal designations on or in close proximity to the burned NFS lands.
Soil productivity and hydrologic function on burned NFS lands.
Critical habitat or suitable occupied habitat for federally listed threatened or endangered terrestrial, aquatic animal or plant species on or in close proximity to the burned NFS lands.
Native or naturalized communities on NFS lands where invasive species or noxious weeds are absent or present in only minor amounts.
Cultural resources on NFS lands which are listed on or potentially eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.
In short, the purpose of the BAER program is to prevent damage, not repair damage after it occurs.
Specifically, BAER Team specialists determine fire effects for the following resources:
Soil scientists, hydrologists and the geologist evaluate burn severity and assess watershed conditions including the potential for accelerated erosion and runoff from loss of vegetation and charred soils. They use this information to help gauge where runoff might be the heaviest and how to mitigate damage from runoff during heavy rainfall. These scientists work closely with mapping and weather experts in defining how areas may be affected by heavy runoff due to the fire.
Archeologists evaluate the damage to previously recorded historical sites.
Engineers and recreation staff determine the need to eliminate hazard trees along roads and campgrounds within the burn area, and assess other infrastructure.
Fish and wildlife biologists assess habitat conditions related to native fish and wildlife important to the area.
The BAER team will produce and share these key products: Soil Burn Severity Map; Debris Flow Probability Map; and a Watershed Response Map. Other data shared will include calculations of increased peak flow in the evaluated watersheds; calculations of increased soil erosion; and a preliminary list of values at risk based on map and cursory ground surveys.