A Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team tests the hydrophobicity (water repellency) of the soil in a burned area from the Thompson Ridge Fire in the Sante Fe National Forest in New Mexico. The Thompson Ridge Fire in the Sante Fe National Forest approximately 10 miles north of Jemez, NM began on May 31, 2013 by human ignition consumed over 23, 965 acres. Hydrophobicity reduces the affinity of soils to absorb moisture, which has detrimental and often costly implications for plant growth. Water repellency includes the reduced infiltration capacity of soils, enhanced overland flow and accelerated soil erosion, uneven wetting patterns, development of preferential flow and the accelerated leaching of agrichemicals. BAER is a rapid assessment of burned watersheds by a BAER team to identify imminent post-wildfire threats to human life and safety property and critical natural or cultural resources on National Forest System lands and take immediate actions to implement emergency stabilization measures before the first major storms. Fires result in loss of vegetation exposure of soil to erosion and increased water runoff that may lead to flooding increased sediment debris flows and damage to critical natural and cultural resources. BAER team members implement seeding and mulching installation to prevent erosion, erect temporary water run-off control structures that will protect recovering areas, and installation of warning signs, replace safety related facilities, remove safety hazards, prevent permanent loss of habitat for threatened and endangered species, and prevent the spread of noxious weeds and protect critical cultural resources. U.S. Forest Service photo.
May 10, 2014
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