Document


Title

Wildfire and prescribed fire effects on forest floor properties and erosion potential in the Central Appalachian Region, USA
Document Type: Journal Article
Author(s): Emma Georgia Thompson; Thomas Adam Coates; Wallace M. Aust; Melissa A. Thomas-Van Gundy
Publication Year: 2019

Cataloging Information

Keyword(s):
  • Appalachian Mountains
  • char height
  • duff
  • erosion
  • fire intensity
  • fire severity
  • forest soil
  • George Washington National Forest
  • Jefferson National Forest
  • litter
  • Pinus pungens
  • Table Mountain pine
  • USLE - Universal Soil Loss Equation
  • Virginia
Region(s):
Record Maintained By:
Record Last Modified: June 26, 2019
FRAMES Record Number: 58144

Description

Short- and long-term impacts of wildland fires on forest floor properties and erosion potential were examined at three locations in the Central Appalachian region, U.S.A. In 2018, two wildfires were investigated within six months of burning on the George Washington–Jefferson National Forest (GWJNF) in Bland County, Virginia and the Monongahela National Forest (MNF) in Grant County, West Virginia. An additional wildfire was studied eight years post-fire on the Fishburn Forest (FF) in Montgomery County, Virginia. A 2018 prescribed fire was also studied within six months of burning on the MNF in Pendleton County, West Virginia. Litter and duff consumption were examined to evaluate fire severity and char heights were measured to better understand fire intensity. The Universal Soil Loss Equation for forestlands (USLE-Forest) was utilized to estimate potential erosion values. For the 2018 comparisons, litter depth was least as a result of the wildfires on both the MNF and GWJNF (p < 0.001). Wildfire burned duff depths in 2018 did not differ from unburned duff depths on either the MNF or GWJNF. Eight years after the FF wildfire, post-fire litter depth was less than that of an adjacent non-burned forest (p = 0.29) and duff depth was greater than that of an adjacent non-burned forest (p = 0.76). Mean GWJNF wildfire char heights were greatest of all disturbance regimes at 10.0 m, indicating high fire intensity, followed by the MNF wildfire and then the MNF prescribed fire. USLE-Forest potential erosion estimates were greatest on the MNF wildfire at 21.6 Mg soil ha−1 year−1 due to slope steepness. The next largest USLE-Forest value was 6.9 Mg soil ha−1 year−1 on the GWJNF wildfire. Both the prescribed fire and the 2010 wildfire USLE-Forest values were approximately 0.00 Mg soil ha−1 year−1. Implications for potential long-term soil erosion resulting from similar wildfires in Central Appalachian forests appeared to be minimal given the 2010 wildfire results.

Online Link(s):
Citation:
Thompson, Emma Georgia; Coates, Thomas Adam; Aust, Wallace Michael;c Thomas-Van Gundy, Wallace Michael. 2019. Wildfire and prescribed fire effects on forest floor properties and erosion potential in the Central Appalachian Region, USA. Forests 10(6):493.