Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (945 KB)

Title: Soil heating during burning of forest slash piles and wood piles

Author: Busse, Matt D.; Shestak, Carol J.; Hubbert, Ken R.;

Date: 2013

Source: International Journal of Wildland Fire. 22(6): 786-796

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: Pile burning of conifer slash is a common fuel reduction practice in forests of the western United States that has a direct, yet poorly quantified effect on soil heating. To address this knowledge gap, we measured the heat pulse beneath hand-built piles ranging widely in fuel composition and pile size in sandy-textured soils of the Lake Tahoe Basin. The soil heat pulse depended primarily on fuel composition, not on pile size. Burn piles dominated by large wood produced extreme temperatures in soil profile, with lethal heating lasting up to 3 days. In contrast, the heat pulse was moderate beneath piles containing a mixture of fuel sizes. Considerable spatial variability was noted, as soil temperatures were generally greatest near pile centres and decline sharply toward the pile edges. Also, saturating pile burns with water 8 h after ignition (‘mopping up’) effectively quenched the soil heat pulse while allowing near-complete fuel consumption. The findings suggest that burning of hand piles will not result in extreme or extensive soil heating except for uncommon conditions when piles are dominated by large wood and occupy a high percentage of the ground surface.

Keywords: forest restoration, fuel reduction, pile burning, prescribed fire, soil temperature

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.



Busse, Matt D.; Shestak, Carol J.; Hubbert, Ken R. 2013. Soil heating during burning of forest slash piles and wood piles. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 22(6): 786-796.


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.