Silver City, NM July 1, 2014--As soon as the smoke settled on the Signal Fire, Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Team members were on the ground assessing the burned areas and recommending emergency treatments to minimize threats to life, property, and natural and cultural resources. BAER is the "first aid"–immediate stabilization treatments--to reduce threats to health, safety, life, property, and downstream values at risk from wildfires.
The BAER Team's recommendations for the Signal Fire area included:
•Grading of FR154-Signal Peak Road and FR 855A-Lockney Road.
•Installing water erosion bars on the roads to slow erosion
•Cleaning and clearing road ditches to allow water to move freely through them
•Removing drainage culverts and replacing them with drive-able low-water crossings
•Installing a closure gate on Signal Peak Rd. and Meadow Creek Rd. for public safety during monsoon rains
•Installing warning and hazard signs at area entry points
•Aerial seeding high severity burn areas
Most of the road work on the lower portion of the Signal Peak Rd. has been completed. This road work is intended to prepare the road surfaces to reduce erosion and sediment runoff from the fire area during monsoonal rains. The installation of the low-water crossings and removal of drainage culverts is to allow water and debris flows to move freely across roadbeds and not clog up the culverts and wash out the road. Upper portions of the road will have similar treatments starting soon.
The 1525 acres of high-severity burn areas will be aerial seeded. Aerial seeding allows vegetation to be quickly established on bare slopes to lessen erosion from taking place. Aerotech of Clovis, New Mexico has been awarded the contract for aerial seeding of the area. Work is scheduled to begin July 9, in conjunction with the beginning of the monsoon rains, which will allow the seed to germinate and provide vegetative cover on the steep high-severity burn areas. The grass seed mixture is composed mainly of annual barley and certified weed-seed-free native grass seed.
Visitors are reminded that an Emergency Area Closure for public safety remains in place for the Signal Fire area. For further information contact the Silver City Ranger District at 575 388-8201 or the Gila National Forest website at www.fs.usda.gov/gila