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10/30/2012 2:35:00 PM
Fire Agencies plan post-fire activities
Breakdown on the Okanogan Complex and Goat Fire
"There are 927 acres of high soil burn severity (7 percent), 1,543 acres of moderate soil burn severity (11 percent), and 11,077 acres of low soil burn severity/unburned (82 percent).

Due to the size of the fire, depth of hydrophobic effects and topography of the fire area; only the high soil burn severity areas were determined to have strong contiguous water repellency, the report said.

"The post-fire area has an erosion potential of 23 tons of erosion per acre from a 24-hour/25-year storm event of 2.4 inches. There is potential for accelerated sedimentation from the effects of the fire. The increased erosion can result in downstream sedimentation, which can bulk flows resulting in increased flooding impacts."

BAER teams reported that sediment may impair critical habitat for Threatened and Endangered (T and E) species. The loss of soil can impair soil productivity in the short and potentially long-term future.

BAER teams estimate that the burned area has a 5-year recovery period to re-establish vegetation.

By Michelle Lovato Chelan Mirror


Now that 116,612 acres of Central Washington land is scorched, Burned Area Emergency Response teams must create and act on a priority list of immediate fixes, and those that can wait a little longer.

A Central Washington 2012 Wildfires Burned Area Emergency Response Assessment update released Oct. 19 reports that land managers' top priority is assessing the, "potential emergency impacts to life, safety, property, natural and cultural resources in Sept. 2012 wild fire burn areas."

The report submitted to the Forest Service Pacific Northwest Regional Office in Portland outlines the BAER Assessment team's finding and requests, "emergency stabilization funding."

BAER teams identify potential post-fire threats such as mudslides, flooding, falling trees, reduced water quality and invasive plants on national forests. They recommend short-term emergency actions U.S. Forest Service employees can implement within a year of fire containment.

U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Regional Forester Kent Connaughton has approved $486,879 for post-fire emergency actions to protect people, property, and cultural and natural resources on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, said Okanogan-Wenatchee N.F. Public Affairs Officer Roland Giller.

The funding comes in the wake if the estimated $13 million cost of fighting the central Washington fires.

Contracting for, and implementation of, emergency stabilization projects will begin on Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest lands, as soon as possible.

"An interagency BAER team of hydrologists, soil scientists, archaeologists, foresters, engineers and other specialists rapidly determined burned area post-fire conditions and recommended emergency stabilization treatments," Giller said.

Connaughton authorized BAER treatment funds for the Wenatchee and Okanogan Fire Complexes, and the Table Fire.

Giller said that Wenatchee Fire Complex BAER treatment funds total $259,621 that can be used to clean debris from ditches, remove culverts, install gates, protect recreation infrastructure and erect burned-area hazard notification signs. Funds will also be used for storm patrols on national forest roads to reduce risks from catastrophic road drainage failure and high sedimentation in moderate to high-burn intensity areas.

The Wenatchee Fire Complex burned area encompasses about 58,239 acres within Chelan County on the Wenatchee River, Entiat and Chelan Ranger Districts. It includes the Pyramid, Klone, Mt. Cashmere, Poison, Peavine and Canyon Fires.

Post-fire funding for the 13,547-acre Okanogan Fire Complex was granted for up to $24,695. These funds will be used to improve road drainage, install gates and establish a storm patrol on key road systems, within the Methow Valley Ranger District in Okanogan County, Giller said.

Fires within the complex include Leecher, Buckhorn, Hunter Mountain and Goat.

The Table Mountain Fire encompasses about 42,634 acres.

Connaughton authorized up to $202,563 for treatments that will include efforts to improve road and motorized trail drainage by cleaning culvert inlets, installing water bars, removing culverts and constructing improvements to stream crossings. Funds can also be used to protect heritage sites, establish storm patrols, and erect gates and signs to protect the public from burned area hazards.

Of these 116,612 acres, 1,380 acres are Bureau of Land Management land, 16,034 acres are State of Washington land, 11,027 acres are private land, and 88,171 acres are National Forest System lands.

BAER treatments can only take place on National Forest System lands and the Forest Service must demonstrate that the treatments are proven and cost-effective.

Okanogan-Wenatchee N.F. employees will assess for, and complete long-term restoration efforts for non-emergency actions at a later date.




Breakdown on the Wenatchee Complex
"There are 2,728 acres of high soil burn severity (5 percent), 7,652 acres of moderate soil burn severity (13 percent), and 47,859 acres of low soil burn severity/unburned (82 percent), the report said.

"Due to the size of the fire, depth of hydrophobic effects and topography of the fire area; only the high soil burn severity areas were determined to have strong contiguous water repellency."

The report said that the post-fire area has an erosion potential of 27 tons of erosion per acre from a 24-hour/25-year storm event of 2.4 inches.

There is potential for accelerated sedimentation from the effects of the fire. The increased erosion can result in downstream sedimentation, which can bulk flows resulting in increased flooding impacts. This sediment may impair critical habitat for Threatened and Endangered species. The loss of soil can impair soil productivity in the short and potentially long-term future.

It is estimated that the burned area has a 5-year recovery period to re-establish vegetation.







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