Sedona AZ (June 13, 2014) – The Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) assessment team has finalized their ground survey and assessment of values-at-risk to determine if emergency watershed conditions exist from effects of the Slide wildfire which burned 21,227 acres on the Coconino National Forest. The team determined that values-at-risk to include life, property, or unacceptable cultural or natural resource degradation that may be threatened by future storms and has recommended emergency treatments.
BAER emergency stabilization treatments funded from an initial Slide BAER request of $50,500 began Monday, June 9. Treatments for the initial request included extracting three culverts on FSR 231, cleaning inlets/outlets and flushing 10 culverts on FSR 231, installing approximately 20 miles of road drainage structures in moderate to high burn severity areas, installing warning signs, testing a burned historical cabin for asbestos, acquiring barricades for use at potential access points, and pumping/sanitizing/closing three vault toilets located in floodplains.
The team presented Interim #1 BAER request (2500-8) for additional emergency treatments to the Coconino National Forest Supervisor and staff this week who forwarded it to the Forest Service Regional Office for review, approval, and funding. It is expected that the Coconino National Forest will receive the requested additional funding of $80,500 no later than Friday, June 13. Treatments proposed include protecting cultural sites within Oak Creek Canyon with defensive measures, closing an AB Young Trail segment to public to protect human life and safety, installing a closure, monitoring with storm patrols as needed, and coordinating the approval and support to County and Emergency Services for Early Warning System precipitation stations.
With further refinement, the BAER team will submit additional hillslope treatments in the coming days. Currently, the BAER team is evaluating treatment areas categorized by values-at-risk, on slopes 40% or less, for seeding and straw mulch application. The goal is to efficiently treat those areas, identified as vulnerable to potential increased watershed response, with effective measures prior to the monsoon season.
The BAER team has presented their initial burn severity map for the Slide Fire which shows that of the 21,227 total acres, 1,293 acres (6%) were unburned, 10,415 acres (48%) burned at low severity, 7,067 acres (32%) burned at moderate severity, and 3,115 acres (14%) burned at high severity. Collectively, about 46% of the fire is identified in the moderate or high burn severity class. Burn severity includes the effect of fire on soils. High severity burns can result in hydrophobic (water-repellant) conditions of the soil, sterilization of the seed bank, removal of vegetative ground cover, resulting in increased soil erosion, water, ash, and debris flows. BAER specialists described the predicted increased run-off and sediment erosion using the 25-year, 1-hour rainstorm (1.96”), potentially producing post-fire flows at two to eight times pre-fire flows.
The 2500-8, Specialist Reports, and Burned Area Response Classification map are being finalized and will be posted after approval. The BAER implementation team is forming with Flagstaff Ranger District Archaeologist, Jeremy Haines, as BAER team leader.
Even though the Slide Fire burned on federal land, effects of post-fire flooding and debris flow could pass through privately owned parcels. The BAER team and Coconino National Forest are meeting with cooperators and other agencies presenting data and discussing mitigation measures. As updated information becomes available it will be posted on .