SOIL BURN SEVERITY MAPS AVAILABLE FOR THREE FIRES AND A PORTION OF THE CARLTON FIRE
WENATCHEE, WA — The Central Washington Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team has completed its field verifications on National Forest System lands within the Chiwaukum Creek, Duncan, and Hansel fires and the southwest quadrant of the Carlton Fire.
The BAER team has generated soil burn severity maps for each fire by using remote sensing imagery that was validated and adjusted during field surveys. The maps show the burn severity of soils and watersheds by categories of unburned or very low, low, moderate, and high. These ratings indicate the level of post-fire conditions for the soil and ground surface that is likely to affect water infiltration, runoff, and soil erosion. The higher the soil burn severity, the less rainfall will be able to soak into the soil when it rains. With less infiltration, there will be increased run-off and erosion with the potential of flooding.
Field surveys and science-based modelling have been conducted to evaluate the condition of burned areas, determine potential watershed response, identify and assess critical values, and prescribe emergency treatments. Critical values are those that may be at risk because of conditions caused by the fire. These values include threats to human life and safety, property such as campgrounds or roads, and natural and cultural resources such as downstream water uses, critical habitat for threatened or endangered species, or heritage sites. The soil burn severity map is a key component of determining a level of risk to these critical values, and assessing risk-reduction treatments that will be most effective.
The BAER team is compiling its findings in an assessment report that identifies immediate actions to address risks to identified critical values. The report and funding request will be submitted to the Regional Office for approval.