The Waldo Canyon Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) team has been busy implementing emergency treatments, especially through its work with contractors, and preparing to implement additional emergency BAER treatments.
Sometime during the week of August 27, the BAER implementation team expects to begin aerial application of the straw mulch on the burn areas previously identified by the BAER assessment team. “We are currently soliciting bids for an aerial watershed treatment contract from qualified contractors,” said Cathy Carlock, BAER team leader. “Aircraft will be broadcasting straw and wood shred mulch from the air, so the specialized skills needed are very specific.”
Meanwhile, the BAER team has installed warning signs along Forest Service trails, road intersections and recreation areas. “Because of the need to protect the traveling public during potential flood events, or from the danger of hazard trees and rocks falling from burned slopes, we will continue to keep roads closed in key locations,” said BAER Engineering Technician Cait Cuddihy. Cuddihy also stated there the BAER team is preparing to stormproof Forest Service roads within the burn area. Additionally, the BAER team has completed its survey of all the fire effected trails, removed dozens of hazard trees along the trails and within the recreation sites, stabilized approximately half of the trails, and removed hazardous debris within the fire area.
Currently, BAER trails specialist Jason Jiminez and Pikes Ranger District trails specialist Alex Doud have been working long hours with local Forest Service fire engine and hand crews to complete the trail stabilization work. The BAER team has set-up work agreements to complete the remaining trail work with the Mile High Youth Corp, and the State Wildland Inmate Fire Team.
The Pike National Forest reminds the public that all trails and the entire fire perimeter continues to be closed to the public and that while the Waldo Canyon Fire is considered fully contained, the fire has not been declared controlled by the Forest’s fire managers. Additionally, the fire area will continue to be closed during the aerial mulching treatments but the Forest and BAER team will plan for viewing opportunities of this operation to be available for the public.
The BAER implementation team continues to coordinate their emergency stabilization treatments with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Colorado Department of Transportation, El Paso County, and the City of Colorado Springs along with other state and local agencies responsible for flood control and assistance to landowners downstream of burned area federal lands (http://www.co.nrcs.usda.gov/news/pas/2012_Fires/2012_Fires.html).
NRCS is also working cooperatively with the El Paso County Department of Public Works (DPW) and cities and communities adjacent to and downstream from the Waldo Canyon Fire burned area to evaluate potential threats to specific businesses, homes, and neighborhoods.
Federal assistance to private landowners is the primary responsibility of the NRCS through the Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program (http://www.co.nrcs.usda.gov/news/pas/2012_Fires/2012_Fires_EWP_Assistance.html).
For Waldo Canyon BAER information, contact Public Affairs Officer Barb Timock at (719) 553-1415, or Cathleen Thompson at (707) 853-4243. Additional fire information is available at http://www.inciweb.org/incident/2929/.