U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
 
Elko Field Office
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Date: August 3, 2007
Contact: Erv Gasser 360-204-1646



NATIONAL INTERAGENCY BURNED AREA EMERGENCY RESPONSE TEAM BEGINS WORK ON THE MURPHY COMPLEX FIRE


Elko, Nevada…The National Interagency Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Team arrived on the Murphy Complex Fire, located in Elko, Nevada, and began their fire assessments on Tuesday, July 31, 2007. The Team’s primary mission is to assess potential threats to life, property, and critical cultural and natural resources as a result of the wildfires. One potential threat is flooding and mud flows.

The Team’s assessments will look at emergency stabilization needs for fire effects to both cultural and natural resources and infrastructure on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. In addition, the National BAER Team is providing assistance to the Jarbidge BLM Field Office BAER Team, which is conducting assessments on BLM lands in Idaho on the Twin Falls District. Other agencies working in cooperation with the BAER Team include the Nevada Division of Wildlife, the Nevada Department of Forestry, and the Natural Resource Conservation Services. The Team that’s working in conjunction with Forest Service personnel are also consulting with grazing permittees.

The 14 team members represent the BLM, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Forest Service. The Team is being augmented by staff from the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest’s Mountain City Ranger District. The represented disciplines include: hydrologists, soil scientists, archeologists, wildlife and fisheries biologists, a vegetation specialist, a forester, an environmental compliance specialist, geographic information system specialists, and documentation specialists. The Team Leader is Erv Gasser from the National Park Service in Seattle, Washington.

Issues already identified by the agencies include: flood/debris flow impacts, roads and bridges, cultural resources, threatened and endangered species, and noxious weeds. Following the fire assessment to evaluate the overall soil burn severity, a determination will be made as to the necessity of any emergency stabilization treatments. The primary objectives are to protect life and safety, property, and reduce further resource damage that may be caused by flooding as a direct result of the fire. The BAER Team’s focus is the potential for accelerated erosion and runoff from loss of vegetation and charred soils.

Following field assessments, the BAER Team will prepare an Emergency Stabilization Plan. The plan will cover the area within and down drainage from the fires on Forest Service and adjacent lands. It’s anticipated that the fire assessments will be completed next week and the plan delivered to the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest the following week. Once approved, treatments will be installed within one year from the date of containment of the Murphy Complex Fire and may be monitored for up to three years.

For further information on this release, please contact BAER Team Leader Erv Gasser at 360-204-1646 or 775-738-5171 (Elko Forest Service Office).

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Last updated: 04-07-2008