While wildfires may be beneficial and cause little damage to the land, some fires create situations that require special efforts to prevent further problems after the fire. Loss of vegetation exposes soil to erosion; runoff may increase and cause flooding, sediments may move downstream and damage houses or fill reservoirs, and put endangered species and community water supplies at risk.
Post-fire programs such as Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) addresses these situations with the goal of protecting life, property, water quality, and deteriorated ecosystems from further damage after the fire is out.
Wildland fires and fighting them sometimes cause damage requiring rehabilitation. Steep areas may need to be mulched for erosion control. Monitoring, removal of exotic species, and selective planting could be necessary to encourage the return of native species. Archeological sites and features may require mapping, stabilization, or additional preservation work.
Emergency stabilization and burned area rehabilitation are part of a holistic approach to addressing post-wildfire issues which also includes suppression activity damage repair and long-term (over three years) restoration.
An incident management team begins the process by repairing suppression activity damage. Emergency stabilization is planned actions performed by burned area emergency response teams within one year of wildfire containment to stabilize and prevent unacceptable degradation to natural and cultural resources, to minimize threats to life or property resulting from the effects of a fire, or to repair/replace/construct physical improvements necessary to prevent degradation of land or resources.
Burned Area Response is efforts undertaken within three years of wildfire containment to repair or improve fire-damaged lands unlikely to recover naturally to management approved conditions, or to repair or replace minor facilities damaged by fire. The process concludes with long-term restoration.