Burned Area Emergency Response -- BAER


BAER Background

While many wildfires cause minimal damage to the land and pose few threats to the land or people downstream, some fires cause damage that requires special efforts to prevent problems afterwards. Loss of vegetation exposes soil to erosion; water runoff may increase and cause flooding; sediments may move downstream and damage houses or fill reservoirs putting endangered species and community water supplies at risk.

After a fire the first priority is emergency stabilization in order to prevent further damage to life, property or natural resources. The stabilization work begins before the fire is out and may continue for up to a year. The longer-term rehabilitation effort to repair damage caused by the fire begins after the fire is out and continues for several years. Rehabilitation focuses on the lands unlikely to recover naturally from wildland fire damage.

BAER Objectives

The Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) program is designed to address these emergency situations through its key goals of protecting life, property, and critical natural and cultural resources.

The objective of the BAER program is to determine the need for and to prescribe and implement emergency treatments on Federal Lands to minimize threats to life or property resulting from the effects of a fire or to stabilize and prevent unacceptable degradation to natural and cultural resources. During the assessment stage, BAER can identify all values at risk that may be affected, but can only treat national forest lands. Treatments on forest land may benefit downstream private land, but treatments on other than forest service lands must be developed and accomplished by other means. BAER assessment plans and implementation are often a cooperative effort between federal agencies (Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Geological Survey, and the Department of Homeland Security), and state, tribal and local forestry and emergency management departments. NRCS can coordinate with private landowners. 
BAER is NOT a long-term fire rehabilitation program.

What BAER may do: What BAER may NOT do (rehabilitation activities):
Install water or erosion control devices  
Plant for erosion control or stability reasons. Replant commercial forests or grass for forage.
Install erosion control measures at critical cultural sites. Excavate and interpret cultural sites.
Install temporary barriers to protect treated or recovering areas. Replace burned pasture fences.
Install warning signs. Install interpretive signs.
Replace minor safety related facilities. Replace burned buildings, bridges, corrals, etc.
Install appropriate-sized drainage features on roads, trails. Repair roads damaged by floods after fire.
Remove critical safety hazards.  
Prevent permanent loss of T&E habitat. Replace burned wildlife habitat.
Monitor BAER treatments. Monitor fire effects.
Plant grass to prevent spread of noxious weeds. Treat pre-existing noxious weed infestations.
BAER Emergency (short-term) Stabilization
v.s. Long-term Fire Rehabilitation


BAER Teams

BAER teams are staffed by specially trained professionals: hydrologists, soil scientists, engineers, biologists, vegetation specialists, archeologists, and others who rapidly evaluate the burned area and prescribe emergency stabilization treatments. A BAER assessment usually begins before the wildfire has been fully contained.

In most cases, only a portion of the burned area is actually treated. Severely burned areas, very steep slopes, places where water runoff will be excessive, fragile slopes above homes, businesses, municipal water supplies, and other valuable facilities are focus areas. The treatments must be installed as soon as possible, generally before the next damaging storm. Time is critical if treatments are to be effective.

There are a variety of emergency stabilization techniques that the BAER team might recommend. Reseeding of ground cover with quick-growing or native species and straw mulching are techniques commonly utilized. The team also assesses the need to modify road and trail drainage mechanisms by installing debris traps, modifying or removing culverts to allow drainage to flow freely, adding additional drainage dips and constructing emergency spillways to keep roads and bridges from washing out during floods.

Follow this link to read the Whitewater-Baldy Complex BAER Executive Summary.

Follow this link to read the Silver Fire BAER Executive Summary.

Silver Fire BAER Phase 1 Mulch and Seed Map

Silver Fire BAER Phase 2 Seeding Map


Follow this link for the Instructions for accessing the USGS ALERT Precipitation Monitor Data from the Whitewater-Baldy Fire


Key Contacts

  • Timber and Fuels Management
    Gabriel Partido
    (575) 388-8377
  • Fire Management
    Gabriel Holguin
    (575) 388-8233
  • Grazing Management
    Teresa Smergut
    (575) 388-8420
  • Recreation Management
    Christa Osborn
    (575) 388-8201