Regional News

Forest assessing burned areas for flooding risk from Naches to Methow Valley

Sep 26, 2017

High above the community of Mazama, US Forest Service Hydrologist Molly Hanson takes dozens of aerial photos of areas burned in the Diamond Creek Fire. She knows that under certain burn conditions, some soils may now absorb less water, potentially producing runoff and erosion.

“Time is of the essence in burned area emergency response” said Hanson. “A team of soil scientists, hydrologists, and other experts are already starting to assess unacceptable risks to life, property and watersheds from exposed soil, runoff or possible flooding.”

With over 240,000 acres burned on the Forest this year, BAER efforts will largely focus on human life and safety concerns including potential downstream impacts to communities including Cle Elum and Mazama as well as others. Emergency stabilization work on the Forest may include installation of erosion control devices, mulching, road or trail drainage improvements and more. Corresponding work is also happening with other federal, state, county, and local agencies to help private landowners plan and prepare.

“We don’t leave when the fire is over” added Hanson. “The Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) work together and coordinate with local agencies and counties that assist landowners with preparing for potential run-off.”

It is important that landowners work directly with NRCS and other agencies to determine appropriate actions needed to protect their property. Even after prescribed treatments are implemented to minimize the post-fire threats, the burned areas may still pose a risk to adjacent areas from potential mudslides and flooding.  Residents living near burned areas need to monitor weather reports and public safety bulletins, and be aware of current weather conditions and forecasts. BAER information available is at:


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