A comparison of soil properties after contemporary wildfire and fire suppression

TitleA comparison of soil properties after contemporary wildfire and fire suppression
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsHatten J, Zabowski D, Scherer G, Dolan E
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Pagination227 - 241
Date Published2005/12//
ISBN Number0378-1127
KeywordsCarbon, Cation exchange capacity, Forest soil, Low-severity wildfire, Nitrogen, Pinus ponderosa, Pseudotsuga menziesii

Forests that were subject to frequent wildfires, such as ponderosa pine/Douglas-fir forests, had fire-return intervals of approximately 6-24 years. However, fire suppression over the last century has increased the fire-return interval by a factor of 5 in these forests, possibly resulting in changes to the soil. The objective of this study was to determine if soils of recently burned areas (representative of the natural fire-return interval) have different properties relative to soils in areas without recent fire. To assess this, recent low-intensity, lightning-caused, spot wildfire areas were located within fire-suppressed stands of ponderosa pine/Douglas-fir of the central, eastern Cascade Mountains of Washington State. Soil horizon depths were measured, and samples collected by major genetic horizons. Samples were analyzed for pH, C, N, C/N ratio, cation exchange capacity (CEC), base saturation (%BS), hydrophobicity and extractable P. Results show very little difference in soil properties between sites burned by low-severity fires and those areas left unburned. Such minimal changes, from these low-severity fires, in soil properties from fire suppression suggest there has also been little change in soil processes. ?? 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

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