USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station
Pacific Southwest
Research Station

800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011
(510) 883-8830
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Research Topics

Recreation: Social Aspects of Fire

Outdoor Recreation Impacts from Fire Events: Learning From BAER Reports

One way to understand the impact of fire events on forestlands is to examine Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) reports. BAER reports are constructed by National Forests after fire events to identify immediate and future threats to life, property and natural resources, and to acquire funding to mitigate these problems. Outdoor recreation, per se, is not included within BAER reports because the loss of recreation-related facilities/amenities is not generally considered an emergency; indeed recreation managers cannot access the funds used by forests to respond to fire events. However, after evaluating BAER reports from 2001 and 2002 from Forest Service regions across the US, some direct impacts on and future risks to outdoor recreation due to the resource damage caused by fire have been identified.

Direct impacts of fire on outdoor recreation were found in campgrounds, recreation areas, off-highway vehicle areas, hiking trails, roads providing access to recreation opportunities, recreation residences, bridges, general use or dispersed recreation areas and privately-owned lodges/resort areas. There were also potential risks identified in these reports related to outdoor recreation. These included risks to camps (Boy Scouts, etc.), campgrounds, picnic areas, recreation areas, lakes/streamside areas, off-highway vehicle areas, hiking trails, roads providing access to recreation opportunities, recreation residences, historical/archeological sites, privately-owned lodges/resorts, general/dispersed recreation areas and support businesses/facilities (such as stores).

The information provided by the BAER reports suggested substantial direct impacts of fire on outdoor recreation and substantial risks to recreation opportunities in the future. Though these reports do not offer evidence about behavioral impacts or perceptions of recreation visitors, they do assist in understanding impact to outdoor recreation settings and opportunities immediately after fire events and in the future.

Publications and Products related to this subject:

Chavez, D.J.; McCollum, D. 2004. Using BAER reports to investigate recreation impacts of fire events. Tierney, P.T., Chavez, D.J. (technical coordinators). Proceedings of the 4th Social Aspects and Recreation Research Symposium; 2004 February 4-6; San Francisco, CA. San Francisco, CA: San Francisco State University. p. 120-125.

Research conducted by:
Last Modified: Aug 29, 2016 11:04:03 AM