Rattlesnake Creek BAER Team Releases Soil Burned Severity Map

The Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team is fully engaged in surveying the Rattlesnake Creek Fire Area to determine what post-fire impacts may occur in the area, and potential mitigations.  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.  The BAER team consists of Forest Service scientists and specialists that are considering emergency stabilization options for protecting life, property, water quality and the deteriorated ecosystem following a wildfire event.

While many wildfires cause minimal damage to the land and pose few threats to the land or people downstream, some post-fire conditions can increase certain threats such as flooding, accelerated erosion and increased sediment delivery, rock fall, hazard trees and noxious weed spread.

On the Rattlesnake Creek Fire, the BEAR team has completed their data gathering and verification field work, and the Soil Burn Severity map has been finalized.  (Follow this link to view the map).

The map shows that the 8,213 within the Rattlesnake Creek Fire area are either unburned (43%) or low (37%) soil burn severity,  while 19% sustained a moderate soil burn severity, and 1% burned at high soil burn severity.

The BAER team expects erosion and run-off within the Rattlesnake Creek Fire area to increase slightly as a result of the fire because 20% of the burned area experienced moderate or high soil burn severity.  In specific areas that experienced moderate to high soil burn severity, there could be concern for run-off from steep hillslopes and resultant increases in post-fire soil erosion and debris flows.

The next step is for the BAER Team to use this assessment to identify if there are areas of concern where increased soil erosion, accelerated surface water run-off, and debris flows have the potential to impact human life/safety, property, and critical natural and cultural resources from storm events.  The BAER team will produce a report for the Nez Perce-Clearwater and Payette Forest Supervisors that includes a description of the assessment and findings for the burned area’s post-fire conditions along with recommended emergency stabilization measures and actions.  BAER reports are also shared with interagency cooperators who work with downstream private home and land owners to prepare for potential post-fire flooding and sediment flow impacts.

As BAER teams and reports pertain to Forest Service lands only, private property owners who may be affected by post-fire runoff are advised to contact their local USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) office for information on options for private property.  A list of NRCS field offices, their addresses and phone numbers may be found online at www.id.nrcs.usda.gov under Contact Us.



*A "Field Guide for Mapping Post-Fire Soil Burn Severity" is available and can help with interpreting the map:  http://www.fs.fed.us/rm/pubs/rmrs_gtr243.pdf.