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The effects of post-fire logging on microclimate and surface fuels




Wooten, Jesse, author
Stevens-Rumann, Camille, advisor
Redmond, Miranda, committee member
Rocca, Monique, committee member

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Wildfire is increasing in size and severity in forests of the western US, driven by climate change and land management practices during the 20th century. Altered fire regimes have resulted in a greater need for knowledge on best practices for managing burned landscapes, especially in instances where a return to a previous forested ecosystem is desired. Our study location was the Spring Creek Fire in the Rockies of Colorado, where we examined soil moisture, soil temperature, and soil disturbance as well as surface fuel loading and understory vegetation recovery in areas that burned at low and high severity, a subset of which received post-fire logging treatments. Two years post-fire, we found no difference in understory vegetation response; however, logged sites demonstrated lower daily average and minimum soil moisture and higher fuel loading across most fuel size classes, and were more likely to show evidence of compaction, erosion, and rutting. This suggests that post-fire logging may create unfavorable conditions for tree regeneration while increase short term site susceptibility to reburns. Careful consideration should be taken when conducting post-fire logging to prevent detrimental ecological effects.


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fire ecology
forest recovery
forest health


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