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Effects of Prescribed Fire on Vegetation and Sediment in Oak-Mountain Mahogany Chaparral

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Approximately 25 percent of each of three small watersheds was treated in strips of 50, 100 or 200 feet width in each of four years. A fourth watershed was not treated. Treatment consisted of late summer spraying with a commercial mixture of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T, and prescribed fire in late September or October. Shrub crown cover was reduced an average of 94 percent. Strip width did not significantly affect shrub topkill. Most shrubs resprouted and quickly reestablished control over the site. Seedlings of desert ceanothus and manzanita were abundant. Herbaceous cover, low before the treatment, increased greatly in the early post-fire years. Grasses were uncommon both before and after treatment. Litter mass averaged 6.4 tons per acre before treatment; 66 percent remained after the prescribed fire. Total 5-year sediment loss was 695 tons, or approximately 0.30 acre-foot, per square mile per year. Results show good but very temporary control of oak-mountainmahogany chaparral with carefully prescribed fire. The technique appears less damaging to the site than wildfires or those broadcast fires with less carefully controlled prescription and execution.
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Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Principal Fire Behavior Scientist, Rocky Mtn. Forest and Range Exp. Sta., U.S. Forest Serv., Fort Collins, Colo., in cooperation with Colorado State Univ.

Publication date: 1971-11-01

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