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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Hydrologic recovery of steep sagebrush rangeland following wildfire

Authors
item Pierson, Frederick
item Robichaud, P - USFS
item Spaeth, K - NRCS

Submitted to: Society for Range Management
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: February 6, 2003
Publication Date: February 6, 2003
Citation: Pierson Jr, F.B., Robichaud, P.R., Spaeth, K.E. Hydrologic recovery of steep sagebrush rangeland following wildfire. Abstracts Society for Range Management.

Technical Abstract: Wildfire is a major ecological process and management issue on western rangelands. Major unknowns associated with wildfire are its affect on vegetation and soil conditions that influence hydrologic processes including infiltration, surface runoff, erosion, sediment production and transport, and flooding. Improved small-plot rainfall simulation techniques were applied in a rangeland wildfire setting to determine post-fire hydrologic response. Infiltration, interrill and rill erosion processes were measured and compared to adjacent unburned areas immediately post-fire and for three years following the1999 34,400-ha Denio Fire in northwestern Nevada. Results indicate little overall effect of fire on infiltration with effects being localized primarily on shrub coppice dunes characterized by high surface litter accumulations. Fire did increase interrill erosion, particularly from burned coppice dune areas. Fire had the most dramatic long-lasting effect on rill erosion processes by reducing ground cover needed to slow and spread the movement of water as it moves across the soil surface. This study suggests that burned area rehabilitation efforts should be focused more on controlling rill erosion and less on increasing infiltration following wildfire.

Last Modified: 9/22/2014
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