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Evaluating the Effectiveness of Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation (BAER) Road Treatments

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  2010 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 20 - June 23, 2010  1008349.(doi:10.13031/2013.29613)
Authors:   Randy B Foltz, Natalie S Wagenbrenner
Keywords:   erosion control; forest fire; forest roads; hydromulch; monitoring; post-fire

Wild fire severity has increased over the last decade, requiring Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) teams to assess larger burn areas for potential risks and causing associated rehabilitation costs to escalate. Risk to forest roadways is one of the assessments made by BAER teams. There is a large suite of BAER road treatments that are typically employed, however, little is known about the effectiveness of these treatments in the years following a fire. There is a need for information regarding what types of BAER road treatments are being employed and how treatment effectiveness varies with respect to site-specific parameters such as weather, soil, and road properties. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of implemented road treatments and to establish a monitoring protocol for future evaluations. This study reports on-going data collected from three post-fire locations, one that burned in eastern Washington in 2006, one that burned in central Idaho in 2007, and one that burned in northern California in 2008. Measurement of the effectiveness of drain dips, drain dips with armor, ditch maintenance, replacement or upgrading or new culverts, culvert inlet armoring, culvert basin excavation, hydromulch, WoodStraw, agricultural straw, PAM (polyacrylamide) alone, agricultural straw with PAM, and placement of surface aggregate was begun. Treatments designed to directly protect the road were successful. Hydromulch reduced sediment from cut slopes at a cost of $4.16 per kg of sediment saved per km per year ($6,080 per ton of sediment saved per mile per year). After three years cut slopes treated with hydromulch average nearly 60% ground cover compared to untreated cut slopes with an average of 40% ground cover. There was no difference in depth of wheel ruts between aggregate surfaced road sections and those on native surfaces. The study is on-going.

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