Klamath National Forest Press Release:
Long before the last embers of Salmon River Complex wildfire cool, teams of specialists began assessing the damage caused by recent wildfire in order to recommend ways to restore the land. The specialists, organized into a Burned Area Emergency Response Team (BAER), include hydrologists, soil scientists, wildlife and fishery biologists, geologists, foresters and archeologists.
The BAER Team’s initial task was to complete a soils burn intensity map as well as a vegetation burn intensity map. Surveys are conducted by satellite, aircraft and on the ground. Recently completed mapping shows that approximately 72% of the 14,789 acres within the Salmon River Complex perimeter are either unburned or received a low intensity burn, 22% sustained a moderate burn intensity, and approximately 6% burned at a high intensity. “Overall we’re pleased with the minimal damage evident from the fires”, stated Joe Blanchard, Forest Soil Scientist and BAER Team Leader for the Klamath National Forest. “The majority of the area appears to have had low to moderate fire intensity—with only isolated areas where fire burned extra hot.”
Fire intensity mapping of soils and vegetation provided important information for the next major task— determining what kind of rehabilitation actions are needed. The resulting BAER Plan addresses concerns for community water supplies, water quality, fisheries and wildlife habitat, erosion potential, and threats to life and property. And the plan recommends actions to stabilize soil, control water, sediment and debris movement; and prevent damage to downstream resources. Proposed actions are prioritized to provide protection to the soil and water before winter rains begin.
The plan was developed in close coordination with representatives of local, state, and Federal agencies and organizations responsible for dealing with potential affects outside of the Klamath National Forest. The BAER Plan for Salmon River Complex has been approved and funded and is now in the process of contract preparation for implementation. Preparation of a BAER Plan for the Butler Fire is currently underway.
“The BAER Plan for the Forks Complex is vitally important for the current and future management of watersheds within the Salmon River Complex,” stated Forest Supervisor Patricia Grantham. “We are fortunate to have a highly capable group of specialists staffing the BAER Team. And we are equally fortunate to have the involvement of a wide cross section of representatives from local, state, and Federal agencies and organizations to help insure the final BAER Plan addresses as many key issues as possible.”