FireWorks for the Northern Rocky Mountains and Northern Cascades - H12: Fire, Soil, and Water Interactions
Course Type: FireWorks activities
Availability: Public access
Author(s): FireWorks Educational Program
  • Ilana L. Abrahamson
    US Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire, Fuel, and Smoke Science Program
Date Created: July 16, 2018

Cataloging Information

  • burn severity
  • duff
  • litter
  • soil erosion
Partner Site(s):
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: February 10, 2023
FRAMES Record Number: 56187


Lesson Overview: In this activity, students discuss a presentation that describes fire’s effects on soils and how these effects are measured. Then they either observe or conduct an experiment that illustrates how wildland fires affect the potential for soil erosion. They learn that soil burn severity varies greatly and that when fires remove the litter, duff, and plant cover on the ground, the risk of soil erosion increases.

Lesson Goal: Increase students’ understanding of the effects of wildland fire on soil properties, things that live in the soil, and the likelihood of erosion after fire.


  • Students can use information from a PowerPoint presentation and a demonstration (on video or done in the classroom) to interpret technical information on the effects of a real wildland fire on soils.
  • Students can communicate technical information about a fire’s effects on soils in a clear, engaging way.