Rain could create new danger in burned areas | CraigDailyPress.com

Rain could create new danger in burned areas

Craig Press staff report

A sign warns the public about potential hazards in burned areas.

CRAIG — Although welcome, rain falling across parched Colorado may now pose a new risk to those living near areas burned by recent wildfires.

“Everyone near and downstream from the burned areas should remain alert and stay updated on weather conditions that may result in heavy rains over the burn scars. Flash flooding may occur quickly during heavy rain events,” according to the Rocky Mountain Region 2018 PostFire Burned Area Emergency Response, or BAER.

BAER teams have been established to begin burned area surveys of the wildfires that recently burned on federal lands of the U.S. Forest Service – Rocky Mountain Region. BAER team surveys are rapid assessments of the burned areas that evaluate post-fire conditions of the burned watersheds and determine the potential for increased post-fire flooding, sediment flows and rock slides.

BAER teams consist of scientists and specialists, including hydrologists, geologists, soil scientists, road engineers, botanists, wildlife and fisheries biologists, archeologists, recreation and trails specialists and geographic information specialists from both federal and state agencies. BAER teams work together during the burned area surveys, field data analysis and modeling phase to present findings and recommendations to the forest supervisor.

From analysis of the data, BAER teams produce a "Soil Burn Severity" map, the first step in assessing potential watershed impacts from wildfires to any downstream areas that may be at-risk from increased flooding, sedimentation, debris flows and rock slides.

BAER teams also produce reports that include a description of the assessment and findings for the burned area's post-fire conditions and recommendations for emergency stabilization measures and actions. BAER emergency stabilization efforts focus on the protection of human life, safety and property, as well as critical cultural and natural resource values, such as the water quality of lakes, rivers and streams.

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BAER reports are also shared with interagency cooperators, who work with downstream private home and landowners to prepare for potential post-fire flooding and sediment flow impacts.