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Prescribed Burning and Water Quality of Ephemeral Streams in the Piedmont of South Carolina

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Soil and nutrient export were monitored before and after two prescribed burns 18 months apart. Burns were designed to prepare Piedmont pine stands for regeneration. Data from four pairs of treatment and control watersheds were analyzed as a randomized complete block experiment. The burns did not significantly affect storm runoff, sediment concentrations, or sediment export from the watersheds. Both runoff and sediment export increased from one watershed, but the effect was due to a bark beetle outbreak rather than to prescribed burning. Analysis showed no significant change in NO3-N, NH4-N, Ca, Mg, or K concentrations or export after either burn. Sodium concentration before burning was significantly different for the burned-unburned watershed pairs but not significant after either prescribed burn. This difference was attributed to factors other than burning. It was concluded that the two prescribed burns did not change water quality of the streams studied. Forest Sci. 29:181-189.

Keywords: Storm runoff; chemical properties; loblolly pine; nutrients; sediment yield; site preparation

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Professor, Department of Forestry, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29632

Publication date: March 1, 1983

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