Some fires cause damage that requires special efforts to prevent problems afterwards. The stabilization work begins immediately and may continue for a year or more, while rehabilitation and restoration are parts of a longer-term process.
Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Teams rapidly evaluate burned areas on Federal and Tribal lands and prescribe emergency stabilization treatments.If your post-wildfire risks are not evaluated by a BAER team, you can use some of the guidance below when considering stabilization and restoration treatments.
Before considering treatments, ask what are the priority values at risk on your property or in the community being evaluated? BAER Teams evaluate treatment options for more than a dozen risks, from invasive species control and livestock management to roadway and watershed stability (see more detail in the Interagency BAER Handbook).
But you may have to focus on just a few priority values at your site first. Technical resources are available, such as this USFS publication on post-fire road treatments or this soil erosion control guide from Colorado State University Extension, but coordinate with your local county and conservation officials before implementing projects.
If hillslope stability is a priority, consider the following steps:
- Soil Assessment: Are the soils hydrophobic and at risk of rapid erosion? Can adjustments be made to ensure re-vegetation success or natural re-establishment of native plants?
- Re-vegetation Plan: Select plant species appropriate for the site conditions.
- Erosion Control Plan: Select cover to protect the seeds and soil. Materials can vary depending on site conditions, desired function, and effectiveness. New Mexico’s After Wildfire website offers a helpful comparison of treatment options (roadway and channel treatments included).
- Installation Plan: Plantings, erosion control products, and other materials need to be installed by following mixing and application guidelines to succeed.
- Monitoring Plan: Continuous inspection of treatment projects is the best way to ensure priority values are being addressed.
Checking the results of case studies and previous treatment efforts can help your evaluation as well. The effectiveness of road treatments of three different wildfires was evaluated by the USFS in 2013. Videos on reforestation of the recent Pioneer Fire in Idaho and the Eagle Creek Fire in Oregon describe rehabilitation strategies used in those efforts.