You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Scientists assess wildfire damage in Yosemite park

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Scientists are assessing the damage from a massive wildfire burning across Yosemite National Park, laying plans to protect habitat and waterways as the fall rainy season approaches.

Members of the federal Burned Area Emergency Response team hiked the rugged Sierra Nevada terrain Saturday even as thousands of firefighters still were battling the four-week-old blaze, now the third-largest wildfire in modern California history.

Continue reading below

Federal officials have amassed a team of 50 scientists, more than twice the number usually deployed to assess wildfire damage. With so many people assigned to the job, they hope to have a preliminary report ready in two weeks so remediation can start before the first storms, said Alex Janicki, the Stanislaus National Forest BAER response coordinator.

Team members work to identify areas at the highest risk for erosion into streams, the Tuolumne River, and the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, San Francisco’s famously pure water supply.

The wildfire started in the Stanislaus National Forest Aug. 17 when a hunter’s illegal fire swept out of control, and it has burned 394 square miles.

It has cost more than $89 million to fight, and officials said it will cost tens of millions of dollars more to repair the environmental damage alone.

About 5 square miles of the burned area is in the watershed of a reservoir serving 2.8 million people — the only one in a national park.

‘‘That’s 5 square miles of watershed with very steep slopes,’’ Janicki said ‘‘We are going to need some engineering to protect them.’’

So far the water remains clear despite falling ash, and the city water utility has a six month supply in reservoirs closer to the Bay Area.

The BAER team will consist of hydrologists, botanists, archeologists, biologists, geologists and soil scientists from the US Forest Service, Yosemite National Park, the Natural Resource Conservation, and the US Geological Survey.

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.