September 26, 2012
Darlene Koontz, 530-595-6102
An interagency team of specialists recently conducted field operations and gathered information to determine how to best reduce the impacts of the Reading Fire within Lassen National Forest and Lassen Volcanic National Park. The team, including hydrologists, soil scientists, archaeologists, foresters, and biologists among others, was comprised of resource specialists from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and National Park Service (NPS).
This team, known as a Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Team, generates a plan for both immediate and emergency actions needed to address risks to people, property, cultural and natural resources and for long-term recovery of the burned forest ecosystem, which includes ongoing monitoring of the area and other activities. Wildfire may increase the risk of flooding, erosion and sedimentation, debris flow, reduced water quality, invasive plants, and falling trees and rocks.
The BAER team will produce one plan under NPS standards and guidelines and one plan under USFS standards and guidelines. The plans summarize watershed information, areas of concern, values at risk and proposed short-term emergency treatments, as well as identify long-term needs for post-fire rehabilitation on NPS lands and Forest Service lands that were burned in the Reading Fire. The USFS is responsible for addressing concerns on Lassen National Forest and the NPS is responsible for addressing those on Lassen Volcanic National Park.
The Reading Fire burned approximately 28,079 acres. Of the total acreage, approximately 11,071 acres burned on the Hat Creek Ranger District of the Lassen National Forest, 16,993 acres on Lassen Volcanic National Park and 75 acres on private property.
In Lassen National Forest, approximately 65% burned at high and moderate soil burn severity. The rest of the fire was either low or very low soil burn severity. Generally, the lodgepole pine-forested areas sustained moderate to high soil burn severity, with 80 to 100% timber mortality; open mixed conifer stand areas had moderate to low soil burn severities, with a 30 to 70% mortality rate.
In Lassen National Forest, emergency treatment objectives would allow for safe passage of water to protect infrastructures and watersheds from accelerated erosion, as well as to protect watersheds from the spread of noxious weeds and prevent OHV access in areas not designated for such use. Invasive weed and hazard tree detection and removal are also among the selected treatments. Of the approximately 45 miles of National Forest System Road (NFSR) within the Reading Fire perimeter, about 29 miles are proposed for BAER treatments. Storm-proofing for both roads and trails will consist of actions such as removing outside berms, installing critical dips and culverts, and placing of rip rap.
In addition to this emergency response, Lassen National Forest is assessing long-term management needs, to include salvage, reforestation, and other resource restoration activities.
In Lassen Volcanic National Park, approximately 49% burned at moderate to high soil burn severity and 51% burned at low soil burn severity, very low soil burn severity or was unburned.
Proposed stabilization work in the park includes removal of fire-killed trees along the Park Highway, clearing of trails, erosion control and protection of domestic water supply for the Lost Creek Campground, condition assessments of cultural resources, and monitoring and removal of rock fall from roads and debris from culverts. . Longer term work will include monitoring and control of any noxious weed invasions in burned areas, continued removal of hazard trees along trails and installation of safety and informational signage within the fire area.
The BAER Team assessments for both Lassen National Forest and Lassen Volcanic National Park are available to the public upon request.