After effects of Pioneer Fire could impact winter travel

Posted at 6:20 PM, Oct 12, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-12 20:27:04-04

Nearly three months later and full containment of the Pioneer Fire near Idaho City is expected Sunday.

However, now other risks are coming into play as rehabilitation efforts are ramping up.

The job of fire suppression crews is wrapping up. Even when the ground was still hot, a Burned-Area Emergency Response team, or BAER, assembled to identify immediate threats. They've since completed their assessment, sent their recommendation off and are waiting for a response back.

Once a plan is locked in and the funding to move forward is secured, hillsides will be stabilized, seeds will be planted and road storm proofing will be applied in problematic areas.

Motorists who frequent highways 17 and 21 should be on the lookout for falling rocks, trees and other debris.

Of course, the driving risks increase when it's raining or snowing.

"Make sure you have a way out, make sure you know what the weather is doing," says Terry Hardy, forest BAER coordinator.

They're also keeping an eye on the spawning grounds for Bull Trout and Chinook Salmon. The Fall spawning fish have already tucked their eggs into the river bed. Erosion could put the eggs at risk and reduce their chance of survival.

According to Hardy, much of how the burned area fairs in the immediate future will depend on what the weather brings.

"Basically, 190,000 acres and we're running out of time to implement and respond with these treatments because of the weather coming in," Hardy says. "We'll get snowed out, nobody else will be working out there."