Hayman Fire & BAER Information
Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation (BAER)
Coalition for the Upper South Platte (CUSP)
Hayman Recovery Assistance
Rehab and Recovery
Other Links and Information
BAER (pronounced 'bear')
Teams are formed after major fires to assess damage caused by the fire
and to implement a rehabilitation plan that will prevent loss of life
and property and reduce further natural resource damage. In a nutshell,
they survey and implement a plan to accomplish erosion control.
We talked to a BAER official and he explained what they are going to try and accomplish...
After a fire, some or all of the ground cover (called 'duff'...needles, decomposed wood and leaves) will be burned away, exposing the soil to the direct impact of rain. In addition, and depending on the severity of the fire ('high' being the worst, see below), the soil itself may become somewhat 'hydrophobic'...that is, it will repel water, rather than absorbing it. These conditions can set the stage for soil erosion when rain occurs.
Also, keep in mind that a forest fire typically doesn't burn at the same intensity everywhere...depending on terrain and fuels. Usually, fire severity will be classified as low, moderate, or high. Generally, high intensity burned areas have priority for treatment, as they tend to be more hydrophobic, have the least duff and have the greatest potential for erosion.
Burn severity can be classified as follows...
The goal of BAER is to keep the soil in place, or as close to it as possible. To accomplish this, certain treatments are applied, such as mulching, log erosion barriers, wattles, seeding or scarification.
Mulching is the hand application of weed free straw to parts of the burned area to replace ground cover that has been lost. Log erosion barriers are dead trees cut and placed 'on the contour' of the hill to collect soil and slow water movement. Wattles are a biodegradable plastic mesh filled with weed free straw. They are placed on the contour of a hill as well, and function in much the same way as the log erosion barriers. Aerial seeding is the application of cereal grains to get plants growing. This not only helps with ground cover, but the plants roots help hold the soil in place. The plants used are a type that won't persist beyond a year or two, so they won't compete with native plants as they return to the area. Scarification is the plowing or disking of strips along the contour. The purpose is to break up the hydrophobic layer of soil so that water can absorb as it flows down the hill. The sacrificed areas may also be planted. Here are some photos of these treatments...