Effects of Forest Thinning Practices on Soil Properties in Wildfire Impacted Forests of the Sierra Nevada

Lindsay H. Benjamin-Britton and Dr. Andy Rost, Department of Science & Technology, Sierra Nevada College, 999 Tahoe Blvd, Incline Village, NV 89451

The dynamic effects of climate change on coniferous montane ecosystems of the Sierra Nevada are of increasing importance, specifically concerning the effects of wildfire on forest soils and revegetation processes. Though wildfire is a natural process in the Sierra Nevada, extended drought cycles, human encroachment and decades of forest management continue to have adverse effects on forest rehabilitation. The objective of this study is to examine the effects of forest management practices on soil properties along a gradient of fire severity. Specifically, soil samples will be collected in the Stanislaus National Forest from thinned stands (treatment) and un-thinned stands (control) in three burned scenarios; unburned, a 2013 severe burn (Rim Fire) and a 2018 severe burn (Ferguson Fire). Soil samples ((3) randomly selected sample sites from each of (6) 30’x30’ plots; samples taken at depths of both 15cm and 30cm) will be analyzed for pH, organic matter, N, P and K. These parameters determine soil viability for regrowth and will be measured using a pH meter, the weight loss on ignition method for organic matter, and colorimetric analysis for nutrient content (Lamotte SMART3 System). This study area primarily consists of Ponderosa Pine, Jeffery Pine, Valley Oak, and California Incense Cedar; similar studies may be necessary to assess different forest and soil types. The data collected will then be analyzed using a Two-way ANOVA. The results may produce some insight on the utility and effectiveness of forest thinning practices for the purpose of wildfire severity reduction and how these methods interact with the soils ability to generate primary forest succession, post-wildfire event. Findings of this nature influence future forest management planning and may help managers retain the integrity of forest ecosystems, conserve resources and/or allocate them more effectively in correlation to predicted changes in climatic conditions and fire regimes. 

Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Lindsay Benjamin-Britton

Institution: Sierra Nevada College

Type: Poster

Subject: Environmental Science & Sustainability

Status: Approved

Time and Location

Session: Poster 6
Date/Time: Tue 2:00pm-3:00pm
Session Number: 4644