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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: INTEGRATED INVASIVE SPECIES CONTROL, REVEGETATION, AND ASSESSMENT OF GREAT BASIN RANGELANDS

Location: Great Basin Rangelands Research

Title: Simulating the effect of fire on the ARS Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed

Authors
item Goodrich, David
item Pierson, Frederick
item Williams, Christopher
item Guertin, Phil -
item Hernandez, Mariano -
item Levick, Lainie -
item Burns, Shea -
item Jolley, Leonard -
item Weltz, Mark

Submitted to: Government Publication/Report
Publication Type: Government Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: October 1, 2012
Publication Date: December 1, 2012
Repository URL: http://www.NRCS.USDA.gov/INTERNET/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb1080287.pdf
Citation: Goodrich, D.C., Pierson Jr, F.B., Williams, C.J., Guertin, P., Hernandez, M., Levick, L., Burns, S., Jolley, L., Weltz, M.A. 2012. Simulating the effect of fire on the ARS Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed. CEAP Science Note.

Interpretive Summary: The Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP)-Grazing lands national assessment is designed to quantify the environmental effects of conservation practices on U.S. non-Federal grazing lands. The assessment includes science-based estimates of expected environmental effects of installed conservation practices using environmental models. Grazing lands are the most dominate land cover type in the United States with approximately 311.7 Mha being defined as rangelands. Information on the type, extent, and spatial location of land degradation on rangelands is needed to inform policy and management decisions on rangelands. As part of this effort, scientists with the CEAP Grazing Land Team simulated the impact of fire on the Agricultural Research Service Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed in southwestern Idaho. The researchers used the Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment (AGWA) tool to set up, parameterize, and execute the Kinematic Erosion and Runoff Model (KINEROS) using pre- and post-fire land cover and a 5-year, 30 minute design storm. Two hypothetical fires burned 35.4 percent and 100 percent of the watershed. The simulated effect of the fire on the burned areas reduced vegetative cover that would normally intercept surface runoff from a watershed average of approximately 30 percent to 5 percent, reduced Manning’s N (a measure of streamflow) from a watershed average of 0.05 to 0.011, and reduced saturated hydraulic conductivity from a watershed average of 10.07 mm/hr to 2.0 mm/hr. Pre- and post-fire difference maps derived from the simulations can be used to target post-fire conservation and management practices in either uplands or channels. These products are ideally suited to enable rapid post-fire assessments to directly aid Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation (BAER) teams in deploying mitigation conservation practices. Fire models could also be employed to derive a series of hypothetical burn severity maps and identify where pre-fire thinning or controlled burns should be conducted to reduce fire hazards as well as minimize erosion and downstream sediment and flooding.

Technical Abstract: The Conservation Effects Assessment Project (CEAP)-Grazing lands national assessment is designed to quantify the environmental effects of conservation practices on U.S. non-Federal grazing lands. The assessment includes science-based estimates of expected environmental effects of installed conservation practices using environmental models. Grazing lands are the most dominate land cover type in the United States with approximately 311.7 Mha being defined as rangelands. Information on the type, extent, and spatial location of land degradation on rangelands is needed to inform policy and management decisions on rangelands. As part of this effort, scientists with the CEAP Grazing Land Team simulated the impact of fire on the Agricultural Research Service Reynolds Creek Experimental Watershed in southwestern Idaho. The researchers used the Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment (AGWA) tool to set up, parameterize, and execute the Kinematic Erosion and Runoff Model (KINEROS) using pre- and post-fire land cover and a 5-year, 30 minute design storm. Two hypothetical fires burned 35.4 percent and 100 percent of the watershed. The simulated effect of the fire on the burned areas reduced vegetative cover that would normally intercept surface runoff from a watershed average of approximately 30 percent to 5 percent, reduced Manning’s N (a measure of streamflow) from a watershed average of 0.05 to 0.011, and reduced saturated hydraulic conductivity from a watershed average of 10.07 mm/hr to 2.0 mm/hr. Pre- and post-fire difference maps derived from the simulations can be used to target post-fire conservation and management practices in either uplands or channels. These products are ideally suited to enable rapid post-fire assessments to directly aid Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation (BAER) teams in deploying mitigation conservation practices. Fire models could also be employed to derive a series of hypothetical burn severity maps and identify where pre-fire thinning or controlled burns should be conducted to reduce fire hazards as well as minimize erosion and downstream sediment and flooding.

Last Modified: 4/17/2014
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