What is Burned Area Emergency Response?

Burned Area Emergency Response team member assessing a burned area
BAER team member assessing the burn


Wildfire response does not end when the incident reaches full containment. A Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) is implemented after a wildfire to assess the impacts on natural resources, cultural resources, and infrastructure.This BAER team, composed of scientists and resource specialists, is deployed to document the fire impact and to provide suggestions for response. These specialists work closely with land managers, who are the subject matter experts that advise the BAER team. This multi-faceted group combines knowledge of post-fire effects with knowledge of the area’s resources to create a long-term plan for the fire area.The first step in the BAER process is to collect data on the fire area and local resources. Land managers provide the BAER team with maps and digital data points. These include issues of concern like historic structures, critical wildlife habitat, and areas of environmental concern Area Emergency Response specialists then head into the field for a few days to validate the concerns of land managers. The team documents observations and collects data by taking dozens of photos and measurements. After field validation, the BAER team heads into the office to input data, generate models, and create a long-term plan for the site. The team meets daily with land managers to collaborate on functional and realistic solutions. Within a week or so, the BAER team finalizes its treatment plan and presents it to the land management agencies. Once the team departs, the long-term work begins. Land managers begin applying the solutions in the BAER plan. These projects can take years and often involve updates to infrastructure like culverts, application of treatment for invasive plants, restoration of wildlife habitat, and rehabilitation of historic structures. Wildfire can cause long-term changes to the landscape and the management of an area. BAER teams provide focused support that allows federal land managers to rebound from a wildfire as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Last updated: August 29, 2023

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