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Disasters and Accidents

U.S. Forest Service Teams Assessing Environmental Impact of The Slater Fire

Wildfire Damage

The so-called BAER teams are assigned to evaluate damage in the Klamath and Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forests, along the Oregon-California border.

There are impacts to the land in the aftermath of every wildfire. That's why the U.S. Forest Service sends teams of specialists to assess the damage after a wildfire on Forest Service lands. These teams are called “BAER” teams, which stands for Burnt Area Emergency Reponse. BAER teams are made up of hydrologists, wildlife biologists, and other specialists.

Two BAER teams have begun working in the area of the Slater fire, one on each side of the Oregon-California border. Virginia Gibbons, with the Forest Service, says the teams will recommend actions to minimize additional damage to the burn area from approaching winter weather.

"Their objective is to identify watersheds that have an increased potential for post-fire flooding, sediment flows, falling trees, rockslides, and that kind of potential threats post fire conditions," she says.

Severely burned soils can lose their ability to absorb rain, increasing the possibility of erosion and landslides that can damage fish-bearing waterways.

Dev Dharm Khalsa is also with the Forest Service. He says, "There’s a lot of critical resources on those lands. For example, water quality. The fires might only be happening in those forest areas, but downstream from that it might be affecting the water quality in the local community."

Khalsa projects The teams' work in the Slater fire zone should wrap up in about a week, with findings being available to the public in early November. BAER team findings are public information and available on the Forest Service website.