STOCKTON, CA - Scientists are replacing firefighters in Tuolumne County as Burned Area Emergency Response or BAER work gets underway.
Hydrologists, soil scientists, engineers, biologists, and others are determining the severity of damage to soil in the fire area to see if those areas are likely to have mudslides when storms arrive.
"The forest sits above population centers. We find those values at risk, whether it's river drainages, city water systems, things we need to protect before the first storm hits," said U.S. Forest Service spokesman Louis Haynes.
Soil expert Brad Rust, also with the USFS, said mitigation of mulch, grass, or tree planing must take place quickly.
"The big storms might come in late November or December. We want to get treatments on the ground before. We have a gigantic fire here. It's challenging to figure out the highest priority areas to treat," he said.
Rust said BAER repair work helped prevent damage to Lake Tahoe following the Angora Fire in 2007.