Post Fire Assessment Work Begins on Region 23 Complex

There has been no new growth on either fire in the last twenty-four hours; Douthit Fire remains 29,730 acres while West Ash remains 58,450 acres. The collective containment of the Region 23 Complex has risen to 85% contained. Today fire fighters efforts focused on patrol, and mop-up, rehabilitation of dozer and fire lines in affected areas.

Individuals or families displaced or affected and in need of assistance are encouraged to contact the American Red Cross.  They have a toll free number (888-382-3790) for anyone to call and get information regarding local resources and services.
 
The Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) Team has begun assessing post fire conditions so they can recommend and implement treatment to protect critical natural and cultural resources.  A variety of techniques may be used such as: mulching, noxious weed control, reseeding of ground cover, signage, possible road and trail closures, road drainage dip clean out, constructing straw bale dams or placing fallen trees to catch sediment on steep slopes.   Matthew Lucas team leader for BAER/Lead Hydrologist stated “The number one priority of BAER is the protection of life and property.” He later went on to state that his team is working with the Natural Resource Conservation Service, Nebraska Game and Parks, and United States Forest Services. The team’s number one concern is post fire runoff. Once a large amount of vegetation has been removed from an area and a storm event occurs infiltration of water is hampered and there is a potential for increase runoff from slopes and increased erosion in drainage bottoms. This could lead to damages to roadways, bridges, and structures within the flood plain area. The goal of the team is to look at and implement ways to slow runoff and help protect water quality in streams, springs and critical natural and cultural resources.  The Region 23 Complex BAER team is made up of specialist in paleontology, archeology, hydrology, range, invasive species, soils, engineering, and geographic information systems (GIS).
 
The Hudson-Meng Bison Kill Research and Visitor remain closed. This closure is in part due to the possibility of fire exposing new cultural resources. The area will be closed while specialists preform rapid assessments, which would allow preservation and protection of the resources for everyone. The facilities at Hudson-Meng Bison Bones have faired the fire with no damages.

Chadron State Park also remains closed and is anticipated to be closed for several weeks. This closure is in place for public safety while crews work to remove hazard trees and cleanup efforts. As soon as it is safe to do so Chadron State Park will resume operations.

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