After a wildfire strikes an area, the Forest Service begins the restoration and rehabilitation process. This is a critical step towards getting the area back to its original condition. Restoration also encourages the growth of native species, eradicates non-native species, and restores the damaged land back to its original condition by stabilizing the exposed soil, planting new vegetation, and minimizing erosion and downstream flooding.
The purpose of the Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) program is to analyze the severity of damage caused by a fire and implement a proper restoration procedure in order to heal and restore the land to its original condition. There are many different emergency stabilization, rehabilitation and restoration techniques that the Burned Area Emergency Response team might use. These techniques can be implemented immediately or throughout a three-year span.
Emergency stabilization includes actions that are planned and implemented within the first year after a fire. These actions focus on preventing extreme and permanent harm to the area that was affected by wildfire. Actions include: seeding/mulching to prevent erosion and establishment of invasive species, building protective fences around areas that have been treated or are recovering and building structures to slow soil and water movement.
Rehabilitation includes actions taken within the first three years after a fire. These actions focus on improving the burned areas that are unlikely to recover without assistance. Actions include: planting trees, reestablishing native tree species, repairing damage to facilities such as campgrounds, fences, and exhibits, restoring habitats and treating invasive plants.
Restoration continues the rehabilitation efforts past three years. It focuses on replacing major infrastructures that were damaged in a fire, including homes, businesses and visitor centers as well as restoring watersheds in the affected area.