Mechanical thinning impacts on runoff, infiltration, and sediment yield following fuel reduction treatments in a southwestern dry mixed conifer forest
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): D. S. Cram; T. T. Baker; A. G. Fernald; A. Madrid; B. Rummer
Publication Year: 2007

Cataloging Information

  • Abies concolor
  • coniferous forests
  • conservation
  • diameter classes
  • disturbance
  • ecosystem dynamics
  • erosion
  • fire frequency
  • fire hazard reduction
  • fire intensity
  • fire management
  • fire regimes
  • fire suppression
  • forbs
  • forest management
  • fuel accumulation
  • grasses
  • Healthy Forests Restoration Act
  • invasive species
  • Juniperus
  • litter
  • logging
  • mechanical thinning
  • Mexico
  • national forests
  • New Mexico
  • openings
  • overstory
  • Pinus edulis
  • Pinus ponderosa
  • population density
  • Pseudotsuga menziesii
  • Quercus
  • rainfall simulation
  • runoff
  • sedimentation
  • site treatments
  • sloping terrain
  • soil management
  • soils
  • thinning
  • trees
  • understory vegetation
  • water
  • water quality
  • wildfire risk
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: November 26, 2018
FRAMES Record Number: 46577
Tall Timbers Record Number: 22338
TTRS Location Status: In-file
TTRS Call Number: Fire File
TTRS Abstract Status: Fair use, Okay, Reproduced by permission

This bibliographic record was either created or modified by the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy and is provided without charge to promote research and education in Fire Ecology. The E.V. Komarek Fire Ecology Database is the intellectual property of the Tall Timbers Research Station and Land Conservancy.


Increasing densities of small diameter trees have changed ecological processes and negatively impacted conservation of soil and water resources in western forests. Thinning treatments are commonplace to reduce stein density and potential fire hazard. We evaluated the impacts of using a specialized heavy piece of equipment to reduce fuel loads on intermediate and steep slopes, on surface disturbance, runoff, infiltration, and sediment yield in mixed conifer forests in central New Mexico. Surface disturbance following thinning was similar between slopes, but steep slopes were potentially susceptible to heavy surface disturbance (e.g., deep tire ruts). Rainfall simulations, indicated disturbance resulting in exposed bare soil, particularly on steep slopes, increased runoff and sedimentation. However, when surface disturbance was minimized, for example when litter was disturbed but not displaced, regardless of slope, runoff and sedimentation did not exceed non-disturbed sites. Advances in mechanical equipment such as forwarding beds may help reduce surface disturbance. We recommend forest managers focus on minimizing surface disturbance when preparing timber prescription guidelines and on-site priorities. © 2007 Soil & Water Conservation Society. Abstract reproduced by permission.

Cram, D. S., T. T. Baker, A. G. Fernald, A. Madrid, and B. Rummer. 2007. Mechanical thinning impacts on runoff, infiltration, and sediment yield following fuel reduction treatments in a southwestern dry mixed conifer forest. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation, v. 62, no. 5, p. 359-366.