Title: Restoring wetlands after the Rodeo-Chediski Wildfire
Author: Long, Jonathan W.; Burnette, B. Mae; Medina, Alvin L.;
Source: In: Seaton, Robert; Anderson, Fran, eds. Proceedings of the 16th annual conference of the Society for Ecological Restoration: August 24-26, 2004, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Madison, WI: Society for Ecological Restoration. 5 p.
Publication Series: Paper (invited, offered, keynote)
Description: The largest wildfire in Arizona history damaged many important springs and wetlands on the western half of the White Mountain Apache Reservation in the summer of 2002. With support through the Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation plan for the fire, we conducted assessments of dozens of these wetland sites. Two large wet meadows, Swamp Spring and Turkey Spring, were eroding rapidly in the wake of post-wildfire floods. The erosion was not only sending great volumes of ancient wetland soils to downstream rivers, but the downcutting of the stream channels threatened to leave both meadows so high and dry that they would no longer support culturally important wetland plants and wildlife. We surveyed the sites to evaluate the rate and the depth of the erosion. Several characteristics of the sites rendered them particularly vulnerable to post-fire damage: the steep topography of their surrounding landscapes, sandy soils, overuse of soil-binding vegetation by ungulates, and roads with poor drainage designs in the riparian zone. We designed a suite of restoration treatments to restore the wetlands, including rock riffle structures to regain channel stability, revegetation with sedges and reeds to stabilize the soils, fencing to exclude ungulates, and road rehabilitation measures. We collected plants from Swamp Spring and a wetland near Turkey Spring to grow off-site for eventual transplantation. The lessons learned from these sites will help to guide future wetland protection and restoration efforts on the Reservation and in other severely burned areas.
Keywords: wetlands, restoration, wildfires, erosion, Arizona
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Long, Jonathan W.; Burnette, B. Mae; Medina, Alvin L. 2004. Restoring wetlands after the Rodeo-Chediski Wildfire. In: Seaton, Robert; Anderson, Fran, eds. Proceedings of the 16th annual conference of the Society for Ecological Restoration: August 24-26, 2004, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Madison, WI: Society for Ecological Restoration. 5 p.
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