written by Grant Hamilton
Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation (ESR) is a U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) developed protocol to restore areas damaged by wildfire. It is part of a long-term (3 years or more) process for recovery of burned areas. Currently, this inter-agency protocol is used by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), National Park Service (NPS), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). ESR is designed to reduce erosion, restore burned areas to their pre-fire state, and reduce fuels available to future fires. ESR is designed to ensure full compliance with environmental protection laws (e.g. NEPA).
The three stages of the ESR protocol. Source: U.S. Forest Service. http://www.fs.fed.us/biology/watershed/burnareas/wildland.html
Approval and Funding Process
In order to receive funds from the Department of the Interior, an agency within its purview must submit an Emergency Stabilization (ES) plan which details short term stabilization strategies. A Burned Area Rehabilitation (BAR) plan with longer term strategies must also be submitted, usually along with the ES plan. ES is part of the Emergency Operations appropriation and BAR is a separate non-emergency appropriation. For BLM projects, appropriations of $100,000 or less require state office (SO) approval. Projects greater than $100,000 require Washington office (WO) approval.
There are five types of ES&R plans:
ESR is currently only used by Department of the Interior agencies. Funds for an ESR project limited to DOI agencies. The U.S. Forest Service has its own burned area recovery program and funding process known as Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER). The DOI and USFS are working to streamline their fire damage response protocols and funding mechanisms, but currently the agencies operate under separate systems.
U.S. DOI, BLM. (2007). Burned Area Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation. BLM Handbook H-1742-1. http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medialib/blm/wo/Information_Resources_Management/policy/blm_handbook.Par.52739.File.dat/h1742-1.pdf
- The Bureau of Land Management’s ESR manual.
U.S. Department of the Interior. (n.d.). Emergency Stabilization and Rehabilitation. http://www.fws.gov/fire/ifcc/esr/home.htm
- Interagency ESR website.
U.S. Forest Service. (n.d.) Burned Area Emergency Response, BAER. http://www.fs.fed.us/biology/watershed/burnareas/index.html
- BAER is the U.S. Forest Service equivalent of ESR.