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Streamflow and water quality responses to preharvest prescribed burning in an undisturbed ponderosa pine watershed

Author(s): Gerald J. Gottfried, Leonard F. DeBano
Editor(s): J. S. Krammes
Year Published: 1990

[from the text] Forest history studies (Arno 1980, Dieterich 1983) indicate that before fire suppression was initiated at the start of this century, most forest fires were surface fires. These fires reduced fire hazards and improved stand conditions by preparing seedbeds, thinning advance regeneration, and retarding the invasion of more shade-tolerant species. Current USDA Forest Service policy allows managers to use planned and unplanned fires for maintaining or enhancing resources (Arno 1980). The effects of prescribed burning on streamflow and water quality have not been studied, although the effects of stand-replacing wildfires are well documented (Campbell et al. 1977, Tiedemann et al. 1979). The possible effects of prescribed burning for augmenting streamflow are of interest to forest managers. Dieterich (1983) hypothesized that prescribed burning, which reduces stand density and total forest floor depth, could increase runoff, or at least make more soil water available on a site. Watershed experiments (Rich 1972, Rich and Gottfried 1976) have shown increased runoff after the creation of openings or after severe reductions in stand density. The degree of density reduction would be critical if enhanced streamflow were expected. Haase (1986) measured greater surface soil water and subsequent ponderosa pine seed germination following burning.

Citation: Gottfried, Gerald J.; DeBano, Leonard F. 1990. Streamflow and water quality responses to preharvest prescribed burning in an undisturbed ponderosa pine watershed. Pages 222-228. In: Krammes, J. S. (editor). Effects of Fire Management of Southwestern Natural Resources: Proceedings of the Symposium. Tucson, AZ. USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station, Fort Collins, CO., General Technical Report Rm-191.
Topic(s): Fire Effects, Ecological - Second Order, Vegetation, Water, Fuels, Fuel Treatments & Effects, Prescribed Fire-use treatments
Ecosystem(s): None
Document Type: Conference Proceedings
NRFSN number: 18551
FRAMES RCS number: 21726
TTRS (Tall Timbers Research Station) Number: 8963
Record updated: Nov 23, 2018