Ecological - Second Order
Fire in sagebrush rangelands significantly alters canopy cover, ground cover, and soil properties which influence runoff and erosion processes. Runoff can be generated more quickly and in larger volume following fire resulting in increased risk of severe erosion and downstream flooding. The Water Erosion Prediction Project (WEPP) model was developed to predict erosion on cropland, forest, and rangeland. WEPP is a tool that has potential to model the effect of fire on hillslope hydrological processes and help managers address erosion and runoff risks following fire. Experimental results on a steep (35 to 50% slope) sagebrush site suggest that rill erosion is the dominant erosion process following fire and the WEPP parameterization equations related to the rill erosion process need improvements. Rill detachment estimates could be improved by modifying regression-estimated values of rill erodibility. Also, the interactions of rill width and surface roughness on soil shear stress estimates may also need to be modified. In this paper we report the effects of prescribed fire on runoff, soil erosion, and rill hydraulics and compare WEPP estimated erosion for several modeling options with measured erosion.