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Fire Ecology, 2012
Volume 8, Issue 2

Post-Fire Soil Water Repellency, Hydrologic Response, and Sediment Yield Compared Between Grass-Converted and Chaparral Watersheds
Authors: Ken R. Hubbert, Pete M. Wohlgemuth, Jan L. Beyers, Marcia G. Narog, and Ross Gerrard
Pages: 143-162
DOI: 10.4996/fireecology.0802143

In 2002, the Williams Fire burned >90 % of the San Dimas Experimental Forest, providing an opportunity to investigate differences in soil water repellency, peak discharge, and sediment yield between grass-converted and chaparral watersheds. Post-fire water repellency and moisture content were measured in the winter and summer for four years. Peak discharge was determined using trapezoidal flumes with automated stage-height recorders. Sediment yields were measured by making repeated sag-tape surveys of small debris basins. Other than the high summer 2005 increase in repellency on the grass watersheds, only small differences in repellency were observed between the grass and chaparral sites. In general, soil water repellency increased with depth, decreased with time following the fire, and was inversely related to soil moisture content (i.e., least repellent during the winter and most repellent during the summer). Reduction in repellency occurred at moisture contents ranging between 8 % to 16 %. Approximately 85 % of the sediment delivered to the debris basins occurred during the first year, with first year sediment yields being greatest in the chaparral watersheds. Peak discharge was similar for both the grass and chaparral watersheds and was highest following the record rainfall of the 2005 hydrologic year. However, only minor sedimentation followed the record rain events and was similar in both watershed types, suggesting that percent plant cover was sufficient and that the supply of easily mobilized sediment and ravel was depleted after the first post-fire winter.

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