Forest begins assessing burned area flooding risk from Naches to the Methow Valley

Wenatchee, WA — Starting September 10, a team of soil scientists, hydrologists, and other experts will begin time-critical assessments of areas burned in large wildfires this summer including the Miriam, Cougar Creek, Crescent Mountain, and McLeod fires. Under higher intensity burn conditions, soils in these areas may absorb less water in the future, potentially producing runoff and erosion downstream.

“Even as firefighting continues on some portions of these fires, we’re starting burned area emergency response (BEAR) in others,” said Molly Hanson, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest BAER coordinator. “Our goal is to assess unacceptable risks to life, property and watersheds from exposed soil, runoff or possible flooding.”

With over 120,000 acres burned on the Forest this year to date, BAER efforts will largely focus on human life and safety concerns including potential downstream impacts to communities including Ardenvior and Twisp as well as others. Emergency stabilization work on the Forest may include installation of erosion control devices, mulching, road or trail drainage improvements and more. Corresponding work is also happening with other federal, state, county, and local agencies to help private landowners plan and prepare.

“Fire doesn’t stop at land ownership lines and neither does the potential for post-fire impacts,” added Hanson. “We’re working closely with partners to share information and data early and often.”

It is important that landowners work directly with the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service and other agencies to determine appropriate actions needed to protect their property. Even after prescribed treatments are implemented to minimize the post-fire threats, burned areas may still pose a risk to adjacent areas from potential mudslides and flooding. Residents living near burned areas need to monitor weather reports and public safety bulletins, and be aware of current weather conditions and forecasts. Additional BAER information is available at

BAER team assessment on Jolly Mtn fire

Burned area emergency response experts complete field verification of burned soils on the Jolly Mountain Fire north of Cle Elum, WA in 2017. Credit: USDA Forest Service

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