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Effectiveness of post-fire Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) road treatments: results from three wildfires

Author(s): Randy B. Foltz, Peter R. Robichaud
Year Published: 2013

Wildland fires often cause extreme changes in the landscape that drastically influence surface runoff and soil erosion, which can impact forest resources, aquatic habitats, water supplies, public safety, and forest access infrastructure such as forest roads. Little information is available on the effectiveness of various post-fire road treatments, thus this study was designed to evaluate common treatments implemented after fire. The 2006 Tripod Complex, 2007 Cascade Complex, and the 2008 Klamath Theater Complex Fires were selected because of their large size and extensive use of road treatments. Two of the three locations had below average precipitation and all three had precipitation that did not achieve the post-fire road treatment design storms. With this amount of precipitation testing, all of the treatments we monitored met the design objectives. All three of the locations had large soil loss in the first year after the fire followed by a quick recovery of ground cover to 40 to 50 percent at the end of year one. Soil loss from roadside hydromulch was not statistically significant from control (no treatment) on the Tripod Complex sites. Soil loss at the Cascade Complex sites was a statistically significant difference on the straw mulch compared to the control (no treatment), but there were no different pairwise differences among straw mulch, Polyacrylamide (PAM), and Woodstraw. This suggests that the amount of cover is more important than the type of cover. Three studies and 5 years after beginning the studies, we think the best approach to assessing the effectiveness of post-fire BAER road treatments is to gain a limited knowledge of many sites along a road system rather than a detailed knowledge of a few sites.

Citation: Foltz, Randy B.; Robichaud, Peter, R. 2013. Effectiveness of post-fire Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) road treatments: results from three wildfires. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-313. Fort Collins, CO: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 40 p.
Topic(s): Management Approaches, Post-fire Management, Burned Area Emergency Rehabilitation
Ecosystem(s): Subalpine wet spruce-fir forest, Subalpine dry spruce-fir forest, Montane wet mixed-conifer forest, Montane dry mixed-conifer forest
Document Type: Technical Report or White Paper
NRFSN number: 12142
FRAMES RCS number: 15699
Record updated: Jun 29, 2016