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-Burned Area Emergency Response

Straw Check Dam

While many wildfires cause little damage to the land and pose few threats to fish, wildlife and people downstream, some fires create situations that require special efforts to prevent further catastrophic damage after the fire. Loss of vegetation exposes soil to erosion; runoff may increase and cause flash flooding; sediments may move downstream and damage houses or fill reservoirs; and put endangered species and community water supplies may be at risk.

The Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) program addresses these situations with the goal of protecting life, property, water quality, and deteriorated ecosystems from further damage after the fire is out. Concern for possible post-fire effects on fish, wildlife, archeological sites and endangered species is often a primary consideration in the development of a BAER plan.


BAER objectives are to:

  1. Determine if an emergency condition exists after the fire.

  2. Alleviate emergency conditions to help stabilize soil; control water, sediment and debris movement; prevent impairment of ecosystems; mitigate significant threats to health, safety, life property and downstream values at risk.

  3. Monitor the implementation and effectiveness of emergency treatments.

BAER is “first aid” – immediate stabilization that often begins before a fire is fully contained. BAER does not seek to replace what is damaged by fire, but to reduce further damage due to the land being temporarily exposed in a fragile condition.