BAER Findings for Hewlett Fire Completed

Release Date: May 30, 2012  

Fort Collins, Colo. (May 30, 2012) – The Hewlett Fire on the Canyon Lakes Ranger District of the Roosevelt National Forest burned 7,685 acres before it was contained on May 22.

The Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team started that same day gathering information and conducting field observations to assess burned area conditions, identify post-wildfire values at risk and determine what, if anything, could be done to address these concerns within and downstream from the recently burned areas.

This team includes resource specialists like hydrologists, soil scientists, archeologists, engineers, biologists, recreation specialists, and others. The BAER team considers impacts to human health and safety, property, and cultural and natural resources.

One of the key items considered by the team is the burn severity. Of the more than 7,000 acres burned, 5,466 were a low severity; 639 were a moderate severity; and 1,513 were at a high severity. It is estimated that within 3-5 years of natural revegetation and recovery, the stability of the slopes will return and the rates of erosion will be similar to what they were before the fire.

Some of the findings of the BAER team include:

  • Public safety concern due to hazardous trees along the Greyrock and Greyrock Meadow Trails.
  • Increased erosion on the highly-used Greyrock and Greyrock Meadow Trails is a concern and impacts could include loss of trail tread and treatment is highly recommended.
  • Increased erosion and run-off into the Cache la Poudre River, Seaman Reservoir, and various water diversions is another concern. Impacts to drinking water quality are expected to occur for the first two to three years following the fire.
  • An increase in noxious weeds is likely to occur and spread in the burn area.

Proposed treatments include:

  • Aerial mulching to replace the forest floor burned in the fire and lower erosion potential is proposed for specific areas of moderate to high burn severity, about 647 acres. This includes areas that could impact water quality.
  • Noxious weed detection surveys and treatment. This could occur in fall 2012 or spring 2013. Treatment locations would focus along the trails.
  • Trail stabilization treatments, such as rolling dips and out-sloping, on approximately 1.8 miles of the Greyrock and Greyrock Meadows Trails. Trail crew will also monitor the trail following thunderstorms in the area to monitor trail tread and drainage.
  • Hazardous tree removal along approximately 3.2 miles of the Greyrock and Greyrock Meadow Trails. (Some of the immediate safety concerns have already been removed by trail crews.)
  • Installation of six warning signs (warning for falling rock and areas to avoid) to reduce threats to hikers. These signs also serve to accelerate natural recovery by preventing off-trail travel.