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Title: Bare soil and rill formation following wildfires, fuel reduction treatments, and pine plantations in the southern Sierra Nevada, California, USA

Author: Berg, Neil H.; Azuma, David L.;

Date: 2010

Source: International Journal of Wildland Fire. 19(4): 478-489

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Accelerated erosion commonly occurs after wildfires on forested lands. As burned areas recover, erosion returns towards prefire rates depending on many site-specific characteristics, including fire severity, vegetation type, soil type and climate. In some areas, erosion recovery can be rapid, particularly where revegetation is quick. Erosion recovery is less well understood for many fuel load reduction treatments. The rate of post-disturbance erosion recovery affects management options for forested lands, particularly when considering the combined ramifications of multiple disturbances on resource recovery rates (i.e. cumulative watershed effects). Measurements of percentage bare soil and rilling on over 600 plots in the southern Sierra Nevada with slopes less than 75% and within 1 km of roads were made between 2004 and 2006. Results suggest that after high-, moderate- or low-severity wildfire, rilling was seldom evident more than 4 years after fire. Percentage bare soil generally did not differ significantly between reference plots and wildfire plots greater than 6 years old. Little rilling was evident after treatment with a variety of fuel reduction techniques, including burning of machine- and hand-piled fuel, thinning, mastication, and crushing. Percentage bare soil at the fuel load reduction treatment plots also did not differ significantly from reference conditions. Percentage bare soil at pine plantation plots was noticeably higher than at reference sites.

Keywords: cumulative effects, fire recovery, fuel treatments, prescribed burn, surface erosion

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Berg, Neil H.; Azuma, David L. 2010. Bare soil and rill formation following wildfires, fuel reduction treatments, and pine plantations in the southern Sierra Nevada, California, USA. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 19(4): 478-489.

 


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