High Resolution Satellite Images Reveal Walbridge Scar, Will Help Guide Damage Mitigation

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Over the coming weeks, Sonoma County damage assessment and repair teams, joined by a coalition of regional agencies, will fan out across the Walbridge Burn Zone in an effort to mitigate the worst impacts of the 55 thousand acre fire’s damage before winter rains arrive.
 
Already a Cal Fire Watershed Emergency Response Team is nearing completion of its work in mapping hazards like severe burns, bare hillsides and areas where runoff will carry pollutants into creeks and eventually, groundwater.
 
If atmospheric rivers and other strong winter storms arrive, engineers and environmental specialists are concerned about the potential for debris flows, accelerated erosion on bare slopes, and damage to roads, creeks and infrastructure.
 
Among the tools being used are high resolution satellite maps like those produced by the Sentinel satellite. With a resolution of 10 meters, its output can help to determine the areas where the forest canopy was most severely damaged, and help to guide hazard mapping. Images like those below are among the tools informing work about to begin on the ground to treat the most impacted areas with erosion control and toxic containment measures before winter rains arrive.
 
In these images, shortwave infrared bands have been combined to highlight healthy vegetation. The darkest green represents the most dense forest canopy, while reddish or brown areas are burns or bare soil.
 
We’ve included one wide view satellite image taken before the Walbridge Fire on August 2nd, one taken during the fire north of Guerneville, and a series of images of the burned areas taken just days ago.
 
They indicate where the fire burned the hottest, where the canopy is gone, and along with ground observations, will determine where recovery and mitigation efforts will be targeted in the days ahead.
 
Click on images to enlarge.  For higher resolution viewing on a mobile device, turn your phone or other device to view in landscape mode.

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