Burn Severity Mapped for Jaroso Fire - July 7, 2013
Incident: Jaroso Post-Fire Response Burned Area Emergency Response
BAER Assessment Update – July 7, 2013
PECOS, NM (July 7, 2013) – The BAER assessment team continues their analysis for the Jaroso wildfire that has burned 11,141 acres of the Pecos Wilderness area on the Santa Fe National Forest (www.fs.usda.gov/santafe/). The BAER team is working and coordinating with the Forest, tribal governments, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), state agencies, counties, communities, and other local agencies in support of their rapid BAER assessment efforts.
The BAER assessment team finalized the burn severity map for the Jaroso Fire. The map shows that approximately 34% of the 11,141 acres within the fire perimeter are either unburned or received a low-severity burn, 11% sustained a burn of a moderate severity, and approximately 55% burned at a high severity. Burn severity indicates the effect the fire had on vegetation and soils. High severity burns can result in hydrophobic (water-repellant) soil conditions, sterilization of the seed bank, removal of vegetative ground cover, and increased soil erosion and water flows in canyons and stream channels. The current BAER map can be downloaded at the “Jaroso Post-Fire Response” InciWeb site: http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/maps/3491/.
Due to the remoteness of the burn area, extreme fire behavior, and the high level of dead standing trees from bug kill, the risk of sending BAER team specialists into the burn area was deemed too high. Therefore, the burn severity mapping was based solely on aerial reconnaissance to validate and adjust the initial BARC (burned area reflectance classification) map. BARC is a satellite-derived image of post-fire vegetation conditions. The proximity of the Tres Lagunas fire and similarity to its soil types has given the team specialists a high degree of confidence in predicting the burn severity from the air.
The BAER team is working hard to complete their assessment and final report. Based upon their findings, the BAER assessment team may recommend emergency stabilization measures and actions on National Forest System lands if their data supports the probability that such treatments will help stabilize soil and lessen impacts from post-fire flooding and increased run-off, and whether they can be implemented in a cost-effective manner. If such recommendations are approved and funded, a separate BAER implementation team will install the approved emergency response measures and activities.
Even after prescribed emergency measures are implemented to minimize the post-fire risks, the burned area may still pose a risk to adjacent areas from potential mudflows and flash flooding. Residents living near burned areas need to monitor weather reports and public safety bulletins, and be aware of current weather conditions and forecasts.
SPECIAL NOTE: Everyone near and downstream from the fire area should remain alert and stay updated on weather conditions that may result in heavy rains over the burn scar. Flash flooding may occur quickly during heavy rain events. Current weather and emergency notifications can be found at the National Weather Service, Albuquerque Office (http://www.srh.noaa.gov/abq/) website.