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Post Fire Mitigation – Why We Select Which Sites to Mitigate
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Post-fire mitigation requires rapid response and decision making.

With fire storms affecting thousands of acres and funding limitations, professionals working in post-fire mitigation response are often faced with a daunting task of prioritizing sites that warrant protection. And with fires occurring typically immediately prior to the rainy season, making the correct decisions on where to implement mitigation practices becomes even more critical. The purpose of the presentation is to walk through examples of a screening and selection process that has been used in a number of Southern California post-fire mitigation efforts to both identify and eliminate sites that warrant post-fire mitigation practices.

The objective of post-fire mitigation is to minimize secondary impacts to structures and infrastructure resulting from post-fire conditions. Reduction in vegetative cover and changes to soil structure increases the risk of sediment, debris, and flooding that can further impact communities that are dealing with post-fire cleanup and response. Due to the size of the areas affected in the recent California firestorms, identification of sites that warrant post-fire mitigation measures needs to be conducted quickly to allow for time to develop and implement selected measures prior to storm events.

The presentation will cover tools such as soil and geologic maps, GIS, U.S. Forest Service Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Reports, storm water conveyance information, aerial and ground reconnaissance, review of pre-fire storm drain and road maintenance logs, and interviews with municipal staff that can be used to evaluate if a site is susceptible to secondary post-fire impacts. Also, factors such as vendor and subcontractor funding, best management practices (BMP) availability and cost, funding mechanisms, and public perceptions are part of the post-fire mitigation decision making process that is factored into decisions.

Audience participation will be encouraged through presenting examples of previous sites the presenter has assessed and being asked to identify if they think post-fire mitigation measures are warranted. This will be followed up with a discussion of whether the site received mitigation funding from state or federal funding, and why or why not it was funded.

This presentation is relevant to the conference's theme – "Stormwater…Why We Do What We Do!" as it focuses on the decision-making side of post-fire remediation. Post-fire mitigation is critical to minimize impacts to communities that are dealing with the financial and emotional impacts of a fire. The selection of sites that warrant mitigation measures is critical to protect structures and infrastructure, but due to limited funding and the size of areas being affected, the decisions of what does and does not warrant mitigation can make a significant difference.

Publication Summary

  • Geosyntec Authors: Kathleen Harrison
  • All Authors: Kathleen Harrison
  • Title: 2019 CASQA Annual Conference
  • Event or Publication: Event
  • Practice Areas: Geohazard Evaluation and Mitigation
  • Citation: Geosyntec will make substantial technical contributions at the California Stormwater Quality Association (CASQA) Annual Conference at the Monterey Conference Center in Monterey, California on October 7-9, 2019.
  • Date: October 7-9, 2019
  • Location: Monterey, California
  • Publication Type: Platform Presentation