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Title: Response of vegetation, soil nitrogen, and sediment transport to a prescribed fire in semiarid grasslands

Author: White, Carleton S.; Loftin, Samuel R.; Hofstad, Steven;

Date: 1999

Source: In: Finch, Deborah M.; Whitney, Jeffrey C.; Kelly, Jeffrey, F.; Loftin, Samuel R. Rio Grande ecosystems: linking land, water, and people: Toward a sustainable future for the Middle Rio Grande Basin. 1998 June 2-5; Albuquerque, NM. Proc. RMRS-P-7. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 83-92.

Publication Series: Proceedings (P)

   Note: This article is part of a larger document. View the larger document

Description: Shrubs and trees have invaded semiarid grasslands throughout much of the Southwestern United States. This invasion not only has decreased grass cover, but also increased runoff and erosion. In fact, sediment from rangelands constitutes the single largest source of nonpoint stream pollutants within the state of New Mexico. Fire, which was a natural factor that shaped and maintained the grasslands, is a management tool that may aid in restoring and maintaining grass cover. However, fire also poses the risk of increasing erosion and further degradation because protection afforded by vegetation is reduced immediately after the fire. Using a randomized block study design, this study measured vegetation cover, soil inorganic nitrogen (N) levels, and erosion amounts associated with the first application of prescribed fire on two semiarid grasslands. The potential for adverse effects from these fires was great because they were performed at the beginning of a drought period. After the first growing season following the fire, grass cover returned to pre-burn levels, and both soil N and erosion amounts were similar to the unburned areas. Thus, prescribed fire for reducing shrub and tree cover may pose minimal adverse risk even under drought conditions.

Keywords: Rio Grande Basin, conservation, watershed, endangered species, sensitive species, restoration

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Citation:


White, Carleton S.; Loftin, Samuel R.; Hofstad, Steven. 1999. Response of vegetation, soil nitrogen, and sediment transport to a prescribed fire in semiarid grasslands. In: Finch, Deborah M.; Whitney, Jeffrey C.; Kelly, Jeffrey, F.; Loftin, Samuel R. Rio Grande ecosystems: linking land, water, and people: Toward a sustainable future for the Middle Rio Grande Basin. 1998 June 2-5; Albuquerque, NM. Proc. RMRS-P-7. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. p. 83-92.

 


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