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Santa Fe, NM – June 25, 2022 – The Santa Fe National Forest (SFNF) Burn Area Emergency Response Team has begun its Phase 3 assessment of National Forest System (NFS) lands affected by the Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon fires on the east side of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Initial preliminary analysis suggests that the headwaters of the Pecos River to the southern edge of Dalton Forest are susceptible to post-fire flooding, which could pose a risk to public safety. Additional high flows along the Pecos River may occur from the southern edge of the forest to the confluence of the Canon de los Trigos. Ash, floating debris and high levels of sediment transport can be expected. Much of the Upper Pecos Watershed (Rio Mora and Winsor Creek are subwatersheds of the Greater Pecos Watershed) has been exposed to fire, increasing the likelihood of increased flows following a fire.

Post-fire assessments in the Pecos Wilderness Area have been a challenge due to its remoteness, steep unstable slopes, and ongoing rain activity. However, initial estimates of fire impacts on soil properties and subsequent hydrological response were verified by examining satellite imagery unaffected by cloud cover, observed fire behavior in the burned area, and aerial reconnaissance. Other analyzes in progress will make it possible to refine the forecasts of intervention after a fire.

Due to the large size of the Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon fires and fire behavior within the perimeter, the BAER team divided the burned area into assessment and analysis phases, starting with the coldest areas. of the fire. The remaining burnt areas to be assessed by the BAER Phase 3 team total approximately 40,000 acres.

A summary of the team’s Phase 1 assessment of the Upstream of the Gallinas River and Tecolote Creek watersheds was published on the BAER team InciWeb page at https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/8104/.

The team’s Phase 2 BAER assessment covered the northern area of ​​the fire, including the Sapello River watershed, Upper Mora Catchment and portions of Embudo Creek Watershed. An executive summary for phase 2 is being prepared and will also be posted on the team’s InciWeb page.

After a large wildfire, special actions may be required to ensure public and community safety and to protect essential natural and cultural resources from post-fire events such as soil erosion and flooding. The BAER program uses ground and aerial surveys, satellite imagery and computer models to assess conditions and recommend emergency treatments to protect at-risk NFS values ​​from further damage.

BAER teams focus on emergency actions needed to protect human life and safety, property, and natural and cultural resources, including affected watersheds. BAER assessments identify unacceptable risks on federal lands due to post-fire threats and help land managers prepare burned areas for potential thunderstorm threats. Burned areas often experience increased soil erosion and runoff from torrential rains.

The BAER Forest Service team assessing the Hermits Peak-Calf Canyon fires is made up of hydrologists, soil scientists, road engineers, biologists, archaeologists, recreation specialists and information systems specialists geographic (GIS). The BAER Phase 3 team leader is David Moore, a forest soil scientist from the Prescott National Forest. Micah Kiesow is the SFNF BAER Coordinator and can provide additional BAER-related assistance.

Using their preliminary assessment, the BAER team plans a field verification to produce a Phase 3 soil burn severity map, which provides baseline information on altered watershed conditions. and the potential impacts of fire on the watershed. The BAER Team’s Phase 3 Assessment Report will include its final assessment, analysis, conclusions, and recommended emergency stabilization treatments and actions.

The BAER team continues to coordinate and share information from its assessment with other federal agencies, including the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), National Weather Service (NWS), and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) , as well as with state agencies and local counties and municipalities. who work with private owners, landowners and adjacent and downstream businesses to prepare for the potential impacts of post-fire flooding and debris flows. The NRCS is a federal agency that has post-fire responsibilities on private lands within and downwind of burned areas.

Homes or businesses that may be affected by flooding from federal lands resulting from wildfires may be eligible for flood insurance coverage from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Information on the NFIP is available through FEMA at https://www.fema.gov/flood-insuranceWhere https://www.floodsmart.gov/wildfires. Further information on flood preparedness is available at https://www.ready.gov/floods at https://www.floodsmart.gov/wildfires.

BAER SAFETY MESSAGE: Anyone near and downwind of burned areas should stay alert and aware of weather conditions that could cause heavy rains and increased water runoff. Flash flooding can happen quickly during heavy rains – be prepared to act. Current weather and emergency advisories can be found at National Weather Service website: https://www.weather.gov/abq/.

Hermits Peak – Calf Canyon Post-Fire BAER Assessment information is available at: https://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/8104/


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