Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER)

While many wildfires cause minimal damage to the land and pose few threats to natural resources or people downstream, some fires cause damage that requires special efforts to prevent problems afterward. 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.

The Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) program is designed to address these situations through its key goals of protecting life, property, water quality, and deteriorated ecosystems.

BAER objectives are to:

  • Determine if emergency resource or human health and safety conditions exist.
  • Alleviate emergency conditions to help stabilize soil; control water, sediment and debris movement; prevent impairment of ecosystems; and mitigate significant threats to health, safety, life, property and downstream values at risk.
  • Monitor the implementation and effectiveness of emergency treatments.

BAER teams are staffed by specially trained professionals from a variety of agencies at the federal, state and county levels. These subject matter experts may include hydrologists, soil scientists, engineers, wildlife biologists, silviculturists, archeologists, and others who evaluate the burned area and prescribe treatments to protect the land quickly and effectively. BAER team assessments usually begin 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.

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    Information and News on Fire activity. Fire Information is also available at the Forest Supervisor’s Office (626) 574-1613.