Basin-Indians Wildfire in California's Central Coast Region

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The Basin Complex Fire burned 240,00 sq/mi of then northern Santa Lucia mountains in the summer of 2008. There is a major concern of flooding, debris flows and large scale erosion for the next 2-3 years after the fires. Theses potential events endanger the Big Sur and Carmel Valley, Salinas farm Land, Steelehad habitat, highway 1 and numerous state parks. There has been work understanding the effects fire on soils, debris flows and erosion. There is little understanding to the effects post fire, erosion and debris flows on river habitat and specifically steelhead habitat.


The Basin Complex Fire burned nearly 240,000 sq/mi in the northern Santa Lucia Mountains. It burned parts of the Big Sur, Little Sur, Arroyo Seco, Carmel and numerous smaller watersheds.

Resource/s at Stake

There is a broad range of resources at risk after the fires. They include the Big Sur and Carmel Valley communities, Salinas Valley farm land, highway 1, numerous state parks and camp grounds, private residents and essential steelhead habitat.


The communities of Big Sur, Carmel Valley, Salinas Valley farmers, steelhead and those concerned with there well being, Monterey County, user of Highway 1, United States Forestry officials.

Laws, Policies, & Regulations


The fire removes organic material and creates hydrophobic soils which decreases the infiltration rate of rainfall which intern increases the rates of erosion and flow.


There has been a lot of work done on understanding post fire debris flows by the US Geological Survey. There has been some work on the long term effects of fire on watershed processes. There is a fair amount of knowledge on the life history and habitat requirements of Steelhead.


The California Department of Fish and Game has developed a well respected method for in stream fish habitat assessment. High resolution LIDAR and or areal photography can help to detect erosion and debris flows.

Future Research