Notes from the Burned Area Response Team (BAER) meeting

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These are notes from the Burned Area Response Team (BAER) meeting held at the Multi-Agency Facility at The Big Sur Station on Thursday Evening July 17th at 6 P.M. taken by Belinda Shoemaker (thanks Belinda!):

Firstly, as Lisa Goettel was unable to attend the meeting last night, I agreed to take the notes. My apologies up-front for my lesser standard of note taking!

The BAER team members; Mike Boone, incident commander for the west side and John Bradford from the U.S Forrest Service under the leadership of Kevin Cooper (previously the BAER team leader for the Kirk fire in 1999) each gave presentations and took questions and answers from the community about the plans in hand for the long and short term emergency stabilization and rehabilitation of the areas affected by the Basin Complex Fire in Big Sur.  Frank Pinney represented The Big Sur Volunteer Fire Brigade.

Up-date from Mike Boone – Incident Commander:

  • Mike reported the good news that over the last few days the fire fighters have continued to make excellent progress in and around the Boy Scout camp area. Additionally Mike reported:
  • Problems with fallen trees and landslides around boy scout camp.
  • Numerous 911 calls to which they are willing to respond. These calls pertain mainly to flare-ups and smoke areas.  Mike suggests if residents feel there are significant threats they should come down to highway 1 to the response unit. Response time might be faster and free up the 911 system.
  • The tan oaks within the containment area will continue to smoke for several weeks.
  • They continue to do water barning to reduce to suppress burn and smoke areas (some of us witnessed Chinook helicopters yesterday. They continue to draw water from the ocean.)
  • 160 person crew remains stationed at Molera, and includes 12 fire engines and 3 hand crews. This number will be reduced over the weekend. A crew will continue to be in Big Sur over night.

Frank Pinney expressed concern about, and the need to look forward to winter and what is likely to occur.  In response to this Kevin Cooper proceeded with his presentation.

Presentation by Kevin Cooper, BAER Team Leader:
Kevin gave a slide presentation outlining plans for Big Sur. Please see video recording of the meeting for details.

  • The objective of the BAER team is to protect life, property, cultural, and natural resources.
  • The Baer process includes; assessment/prescription and treatment of the burn areas, implantation of remediation plan, monitoring of treatment plan.
  • The goal is to minimize threats to property, roads, and facilities
  • The BAER team will consider the likely rain fall and its effects on watersheds.
  • The team will analyze and repair the damage caused by equipment, trucks, vehicles, dozer lines, helipads etc. used for suppression work. They will also focus on burn area rehabilitation and stabilization of area as a whole.
  • Analytical phase will take one week and begin on August 11th.
  • A hydrologist will be part of the team.
  • Satellite imagery will continue to be used to map out hot-spots and to identify which areas will be more prone to flooding.
  • Agency coordination will include; federal, state, local agencies and hydrologists etc.
  • The emergency plan in place is not the same as a FEMA emergency program.
  • In the interest of public safety there might be some road closures, and hazard warnings will be given.
  • John Bradford, BAER team member representing the Forrest Service will lead the effort to stabilize and rehabilitate forest area.

Robert Clyburn, our representative from the Office of Emergency Services (OES) stated that he will continue to coordinate and liaise with emergency services and the community at large.

Caltrans has a contract open within 12 watersheds where they see problems concerning culverts.

Assistance Available:

Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) will provide technical assistance in order to assist in the preservation and protection around developments.

Emergency Watershed Protection Program is available in Monterey County to assist property owners via various agencies in the remediation and protection of private land. Grants are available whereby 75% of cost will be provided by federal agencies, and 25% of cost will be paid by home owner. Contact OES for further details.

Red Cross needs to find all property owners and renters who have suffered significant damage and do not have insurance. If you fall into this category please call the main chapter 2 at 831-624-6921.

Frank Pinney met with the Big Sur Land Trust today to work on a grant for fire suppression.

Coast Property Owners Association (CPOA) continues to play a significant role in coordinating donations and other offers for help for the community during this time. Gratitude was expressed for all their hard work and financial support to date.

Need for Volunteers:
Ventana Wilderness would like to hear from anyone willing to donate their time.
Please also follow links on http://www.surfire2008 for general community needs.
For further details regarding the community question and answer session following presentations please watch the video of the meeting.

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