October 11, 2013

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Mike Harding Discusses Post-Fire Assessments, Remediation in Journal Feature

In a new feature that examines the rising number of wildfires and their associated costs, a leading journal features the experiences of a senior Geosyntec practitioner who has responded to more than 45 major fire events in his career.

Michael V. Harding, CPESC, CESSWI, a senior consultant for Geosyntec based in California and an international leader in erosion control, describes the importance of post-fire assessments in an extensive interview appearing in the fall issue of Erosion Control.

Mike has more than 35 years of experience in erosion and sediment control, resource management, mined land reclamation, wildlife habitat development, and non-point source pollution controls. He ranks among the nation's leaders in the evaluation, research, development, and application of cost-effective erosion control materials and techniques.

The journal feature, "Wildfire and Flood," describes the three-part fire strategy the U.S. Forest Service intends to use in managing rising fire suppression costs for the western United States. It also describes how officials want to examine post-fire remediation efforts around the country and determine the most efficient means for protecting citizens and their property.

As part of the feature, Mike describes how Geosyntec practitioners typically conduct post-fire assessments on the ground and from the air. He also elaborates on the importance of communication and teaming with local, state, and federal officials as decisions are collectively made concerning assessments, potential hazards, and remediation strategies.

"There are usually threats following a fire, like flooding, mudslides, and debris flows. But the question is: do these hazards occur in areas that endanger human health and safety?" Mike points out in his interview.

"The perception of a looming secondary disaster after a fire generally results in a lot of pressure on public officials to rush out and do something immediately, but it's not always necessary — at least not on the entire burn-affected area," Mike said.

That's why Geosyntec's post-fire assessments are so important.

"They help public agencies focus their economic and labor resources on high-priority sites where individuals, communities, or infrastructure may be impacted from post-fire hazards," he said.