Burned Area Emergency Response Team
The Brins Fire BAER (Burned Area Emergency Response) Team assembled June 29 and a meeting was held with cooperating agencies and key community contacts to discuss the BAER process and proposed schedule. Over the next 7 days (June 29 to July 6) the team evaluated physical attributes, slope, vegetation, soils, burn severity, and specific implications of the burn area. The team identified “values at risk”, emergency funding needed, and recommended treatments for the burn area.
The results of the analysis were shared with cooperating agencies and key community contacts July 7, at a meeting held at the Sedona Fire Station 1. The public was also alerted of the BAER team findings and concerns through individual contacts and media announcements. A public meeting was held July 10, for Oak Creek Canyon residents and businesses to learn about the findings and to discuss possible emergency alert systems in Oak Creek Canyon.
Representatives from the Coconino County Emergency Services and the Sedona Fire Department discussed the "emergency alert" process and multiple notification options in the event of threatening storms with ½ inch rain or more and the potential for dangerous rock and debris slides along 89A.
BAER Critical Values/Resources and Threats:
A primary concern is the potential for damage from debris-laden mud flows or falling rock across US Highway 89A and onto Oak Creek. Such debris and rock flows are capable of blocking and/or washing out culverts under the highway as well as posing life threatening conditions.
County Emergency Response for Oak Creek Canyon residents and businesses include a Sedona Fire station in Oak Creek Canyon, local sirens, and emergency phone lists as identified with Coconino County Emergency Services and the Sedona Fire Department. Monitoring national weather service alerts are also recommended.
National Forest parking and access to Oak Creek is closed along 89A north of Midgely Bridge to south of Slide Rock State Park until further evaluation following the monsoon rain season. This closure is expected to continue into September. Forest visitors are being warned of the closure and potential for rockfall, debris flows and sediment runoff from summer monsoon rains. This threat pertains to users within and immediately downstream of the burned area, primarily along the 3.7 mile closure adjacent to US Highway 89A.
Water quality in Oak Creek, a state-designated “unique water” area, may be affected. Runoff containing ash and fine to coarse grained sediments will be transported into Oak Creek over the short-term before recovery occurs.
Forest facilities including Manzanita campground, Encinosa Day Use Picnic Area and a visitor center with associated infrastructure are now susceptible to increased threats to forest users and damage. These facilities remain closed until further notice.
Soil productivity is a concern given there is a limited number of deeper productive soil areas outside the wilderness within the burn area.
Threatened and Endangered Species of concern include the Narrow Headed Garter Snake population located immediately downstream of the burned area.
Emergency Treatment Objectives:
- Reduce the threats of human injury or fatality from debris slides through facilitation of timely placement of ALERT or similar early-warning systems along US Highway 89A and businesses and residences immediately adjacent to the eastern perimeter of the burned area.
- Reduce threats of human injury and fatality from debris slides through full closure of the burned area including a campground, day use area, visitor center and all trails within or providing access into the burned area.
- Reduce road and culvert damage and due to increase potential water flows into adjacent Oak Creek . This will be accomplished by reducing potential blocking of culverts along 3.7 miles of US Highway 89A by removing existing floatable downed woody debris from tributary channels within the burned area.
- Protect Forest infrastructure facilities (pump houses, etc) from post-fire runoff events to the extent practical.
- Protect sensitive and threatened wildilfe species identified. The US Geological Survey and US Fish and Wildlife Service are the lead in collection and relocation of snakes that may be directly effected by post fire runoff.
- Reduce soil loss, ash and sediment deposition in tributaries to Oak Creek. Maintain soil and vegetative productivity in deep soils adjacent to Oak Creek. Water quality affects in Oak Creek is effected.
Accomplishments to Date
- June 29 and July 7 meetings with cooperating agencies
- Public alert and meeting July 10, Oak Creek Canyon residents & businesses
- Field reconnaissance by the BAER team
- Burn severity mapped
- “Values at risk” determined
- Treatments prescribed
- Specialists reports
- Initial ordering of resources
- Establishment of an informational Brins Fire BAER web site
Emergency Treatments by July 15:
- Early warning system established and agency support within community
- Removal of floatable woody debris in channels and drainages
- Closure of recreation facilities and trails within fire area
- Protect Encinoso Day Use Area toilet from water flow contamination
- Rehab Social Trail located near Sterling Pass
- Protection of 3 well houses in Oak Creek Canyon.
- Mulch 9 acres, seed 11 acres, stabilize head-cut and check dams
- Removal of hazard trees in work areas
- Manual control of weeds
- Salvage of Narrow Headed Garter Snakes (USGS lead)
- Natural recovery allowed in remote wilderness areas
- Plan for long-term restoration including wilderness trails (to be determined)
Brins Fire BAER Team Members:
Greg Kuyumjian – BAER Team Leader and Hydrologist
Rory Steinke – Operations Leader and Soil Scientist, Coconino National Forest
Polly Haessig – Geologist, Mogollon Rim Ranger District
Jim Beard – Landscape Architect, Coconino National Forest
Robin Rose – Recreation/Wilderness Resource Specialist, Kaibab National Forest
Debra Crisp - Plant Resource Specialist, Coconino National Forest
Angela Crossley - Archaeologist, Red Rock Ranger District
Janie Agyagos - Wildlife Biologist, Red Rock Ranger District
Jack Norman – Implementation Team Leader & Watershed Specialist, Red Rock Ranger District
Connie Birkland – Public Affairs Specialist, Red Rock Ranger District
July 2006 - Brins Fire seeding and mulching treatments located near Manzanita Campground and Encinoso Picnic area. Weed-free grass seed has been spread in the area and straw utilized for mulching protection. Post-fire treatments to establish re-vegetation will help to prevent soil erosion and unwanted sediment deposition into Oak Creek.
Sand bags and plastic insulation has been placed around Encinoso toilet facility to prevent potential water contamination in Oak Creek. A local pump house facility is also being protected.
Here are some pictures of debris flows taken on Monday July 31st by Polly Haessig. (1.38MB .pdf file)
March 2009 - Slide Show
Brins Fire Burn Severity Map (553kb .pdf file)
Brins Fire Geological Hazards Map (584kb .pdf file)
Google Map of the Brins Fire Burn Severity Area (164kb .pdf file)
Brins Burn Severity 3D Map (237kb .pdf file) (Looking from the Southeast to Northwest)
Brins Burn Severity 3D Map (206kb .pdf file) (Looking from the Southwest to the Northeast)
Interactive Google Image of Brins Burn Severity (To view this .kmz file you will need to download and install Google Earth, a free-use program, and you will need a high-speed internet connection. This website is not affiliated with the Coconino National Forest.)
The BAER Team: Responding to Post-Fire Threats by Greg Kuyumjian, Hydrologist, SW Region
Warning from Coconino County Sheriff's Office
Please be aware of possible rock and debris running off of the slopes above the burn area in Oak Creek Canyon. The occurrence of a monsoon storm has the potential of initiating massive debris flow across Hwy 89A. Please keep your heads up and leave the area if you see signs of an approaching storm.
(Photo: Morrison, 1970)
Here is a weblink for those people who want to know about the Flood Control District Alert System now installed for the Brins Fire debris flow/rockslide risks.
Reminder – rainfall totals of 1” or so in a 60 minute window are projected to be problematic for the area between Midgley and Sliderock; stay vigilant and stay safe!
Click on Sensor ID 220 (Wilson Mountain) or sensor ID 230 (Wilson First Bench) station for 15 minute ppt totals.
The Southwest Hydrology website link provides several feature articles discussing fires and their affects here in the southwest. Fires can dramatically increase the potential for flash floods and debris flows, both of which cost lives and create large ash and sediment loads in stream channels and challenge water treatment systems.
Southwest Hydrology provides background information concerning post-fire issues including quality and run-off, as well as emergency response efforts and rehabilitation treatments used, and options for watershed management.
2006 Brins Fire • Sedona, Arizona
Photos By David Sunfellow
Link to Brins Fire Photos by David Sunfellow (this is not a Coconino National Forest affiliate. This link will open in a new page.)
Friends of the Forest Crew:
Sterling Canyon Rehabilitation
Photos by Susan Amon, crew member
"Thought you all might be interested in viewing some of the pictures I took on our Sterling Canyon work day. I posted them on my website so that they are easier to view." [Website1] and [Website2]