In the wake of another season of very large wildfires in Okanogan County, Okanogan Conservation District re-established the Interagency Burned Area Emergency Response (iBAER) Team. In 2014, this interagency risk assessment team was the first of its kind to be tasked with assessing the erosion threat on state and private lands impacted by the Carlton Complex Fire. This year, the team evaluated threats to life and property on state and private lands burned in the Okanogan Complex, Tunk Block, and North Star fires. Longer term restoration and recovery options were also evaluated.
The team members come from multiple agencies: Okanogan, Cascadia, Spokane, Skagit, Whatcom and Thurston Conservation Districts, National Weather Service (NWS), Washington Departments of Natural Resources (DNR) and Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), Colville Confederated Tribes Fish and Wildlife Department, and the US Army Corps of Engineers. Expertise includes soil scientists, hydrologists, archeologists, engineers, foresters, fish biologists, range specialists, and GIS technicians
In examining the severity of the burn, the team looked at five key factors: amount and condition of vegetation remaining on top of the soil, ash depth, amount and condition of roots remaining in the soil, soil structure, and the ability of the soil to absorb water. By taking into account all of these factors, the team developed a soil burn severity map, which is included in the report. The team also ran hydrological models to estimate potential runoff in different size storm events.
Because the iBAER report looks at the larger landscape and not individual parcels, private landowners who are concerned about their erosion and flash flooding risk should contact contact the Okanogan Conservation District to request a free site assessment at 509-422-0855 or email@example.com. Landowners may also visit the office in the USDA Service Center at 1251 South 2nd Ave in Okanogan, Monday-Friday 8:30-4:00.
The iBAER report is available on the Okanogan Conservation District website Fire Recovery page: www.okanogancd.org/fires. Hard copies will be available for review at the Okanogan CD office.