Click on “Download PDF” for the PDF version or on the title for the HTML version.


If you are not an ASABE member or if your employer has not arranged for access to the full-text, Click here for options.

Potential Hydrologic Response to a Prescribed Fire on a Small Mountainous

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org

Citation:  Paper number  032168,  2003 ASAE Annual Meeting . (doi: 10.13031/2013.13793) @2003
Authors:   Gerald N. Flerchinger, Patrick E. Clark
Keywords:   Evapotranspiration, percolation, prescribed burn, runoff, rangeland

Prescribed fire is often used to control invasive weeds, improve habitat, and deter wildfire. The USDA-ARS Northwest Watershed Research Center plans to burn a small 26-ha ephemeral watershed where detailed measurements and a ten-year water balance had been conducted. This paper investigates the potential hydrological response to that prescribed fire. Changes in water repellency and infiltration capacity were assumed not to limit the low intensity snowmelt input to the basin. Percolation, subsurface flow and runoff during the first runoff season are influenced by the soil moisture deficit created by pre-burn vegetation conditions and will likely not be influenced greatly by the fire. A year of reduced evapotranspiration following the fire is necessary to significantly reduce the soil moisture deficit and increase percolation through the root zone and subsurface flow to the stream. Results indicate significant changes in streamflow in this subsurface-flow-dominated watershed may not be observed until the second snowmelt season following the fire and could increase by approximately 25%. These results are unlike watersheds dominated by overland flow and surface runoff where increased flows are more likely to occur during the first year following a fire.

(Download PDF)    (Export to EndNotes)