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Burned area analysis concludes on Pipeline Fire, moves to Haywire Fire amid monsoon uptick

Eric - Burned Area Team
Ryan Heinsius/KNAU
Soil scientist and burned area emergency response team coordinator Eric Schroder demonstrates the impacts to soil in a moderate and high severity burn area of the Pipeline Fire on Fri, June 24, 2022.

A burned area emergency response team has finished assessing damage to soils from the Pipeline Fire. They found that over half of the more than 26,500-acre blaze burned at a low severity for soils, but that some more heavily impacted areas pose increased dangers.

The team’s analysis of the Pipeline burned area will help officials determine what emergency treatments are needed to stabilize soils in moderate and high severity areas.

The work is designed to help protect public lands as well as threatened and endangered species habitat, native plants and cultural resources.

The team’s findings will also provide data about the fire’s impacts to watersheds. That’ll be key in identifying which communities could be more vulnerable to post-fire flooding.

Overall, about 1,300 acres, or 5%, of the Pipeline Fire burned at a high severity for soils with a third classified as moderate.

"Certainly we can see higher rates of erosion and decreased infiltration of water into the soil within these moderate and high burn severity areas," says soil scientist and response team coordinator Eric Schroder.

He says the timeframe for recovery of the Pipeline Fire burn area is uncertain, but that within three to five years erosion and runoff could be reduced.

Fire managers also say much of the fire’s most heavily burned areas in Weatherford Canyon and on parts of the San Francisco Peaks could eventually repopulate with aspens, replacing ponderosa pines and other mixes conifers.

The response team will now assess the soil burn severity of the nearby 5,500-acre Haywire Fire.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom as executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.