"It's a BAER of a plan!"


That's not a spelling error, but yet another acronym used by the interagency fire community.

It stands for "Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation and Stabilization." This emergency response has never before been implemented in Alaska, but the vast amount of land burned in the 2004 fires stimulated at the congressional level interest and concern about what should happen to the burned areas. This concern led to a BAER plan developed by a 48-state interagency team to assess the impacts of the 2004 fires.

As the name suggests, the teams must determine if areas burned need emergency rehabilitation or stabilization. The BAER team assessed 28 of the 51 fires that occurred on areas larger than 10,000 acres. Fortunately, the team identified remarkably few sites in need of emergency action, but did identify concerns related to the potential introduction of invasive species as a result of equipment brought from other states.

Because the plan focused mostly on Bureau of Land Management lands and funding was initially targeted at that agency's needs, the Fish and Wildlife Service fire staff reviewed and revised the plan to ensure adequate funding to address refuge system needs. In 2005, we plan to address trail damage on the Emma Lake trail on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge; trees that fell across winter trails in burns on the Yukon Flats and Kanuti refuges; impacts on cultural sites within the Yukon Flats and Kanuti fires; and initiating inventory/monitoring of invasive plants in places where equipment and crews were located during the 2004 fires.

The interagency assessment team is expected to evaluate the remaining large fire areas in early summer 2005. This will bring an additional $421,000 to the Service's fire program in FY05.

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