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Erosion Rates from Forests and Rangelands Following Fuel Management

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

Citation:  Watershed ManWatershed Management to Meet Water Quality Standards and TMDLS (Total Maximum Daily Load) Proceedings of the 10-14 March 2007, San Antonio, Texas  701P0207.(doi:10.13031/2013.22482)
Authors:   William J Elliot, Peter R Robichaud, Ina Sue Miller
Keywords:   Keywords Runoff; Erosion; Thinning; Prescribed Fire; Wildfire

In both forest and rangelands, fuel reduction operations are now common practices. Mechanical thinning followed by prescribed fire is common in forests, while fire is frequently applied to rangelands. Studies at different scales (50 sq m to 389 ha) measure the erosion from fuel management. This presentation compares runoff and erosion from these studies. Plot size has the greatest influence on runoff, with larger watersheds generating more runoff. Runoff ranged from zero on a number of 4-ha forested watersheds to 376 mm on a 386 ha forested watershed. Erosion rates were most influenced by surface cover. Observed erosion rates on rangelands were about 0.04 Mg ha-1 on undisturbed plots and 0.06 Mg ha-1 on burned plots. On forests, measured erosion rates were zero to 0.03 Mg ha-1 y-1, increased up to 0.1 Mg ha-1 y-1 for prescribed fire, and up to 6.7 Mg ha-1 y-1 following wildfire.

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