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Three years of hillslope sediment yields following the Valley Complex fires, western Montana

Author(s): Peter R. Robichaud, Joseph W. Wagenbrenner, Robert E. Brown, Kevin M. Spigel
Year Published: 2009

The 2000 Bitterroot Valley wildfires provided an opportunity to measure post-fire effects and recovery rates. We established 24 small (0.01 ha [0.02 acre]) plots in four high-severity burn sites. We measured sediment yields at each site with silt fences. We also measured rainfall characteristics, soil water repellency, vegetative cover, and other site characteristics. The median sediment yield in post-fire year 1 was 8 Mg ha-1 yr -1 (3.6 ton acre-1 yr -1), and values ranged from 0.3 to 47 Mg ha-1 yr -1 (0.1 to 21 ton acre-1 yr -1). Sediment yields were lower in post-fire years 2 and 3, with medians of 2 and 0.3 Mg ha-1 yr -1 (0.9 and 0.1 ton acre-1 yr -1), respectively. The high variability in sediment yields was related to 10-minute maximum rainfall intensity (I10), but not to soil water repellency or vegetative cover.

Citation: Robichaud, Peter R.; Wagenbrenner, Joseph W.; Brown, Robert E.; Spigel, Kevin M. 2009. Three years of hillslope sediment yields following the Valley Complex fires, western Montana. Res. Pap. RMRS-RP-77. Fort Collins, CO: USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 8 p.
Topic(s): Fire Effects, Ecological - First Order, Fire Intensity / Burn Severity, Ecological - Second Order, Vegetation, Soils, Water, Fire Regime
Ecosystem(s): Montane dry mixed-conifer forest, Ponderosa pine woodland/savanna
Document Type: Technical Report or White Paper
NRFSN number: 11147
FRAMES RCS number: 7292
Record updated: May 10, 2018