Post Fire Concerns

Wildfires are common and powerful disturbances in Southwestern ecosystems. They are an important part of natural ecosystem processes and can exert various impacts on watersheds depending on the intensity, extent, and frequency of burns. Wildfire characteristics drive the condition of plant communities and soil properties post-burn, which, in turn, alters the ability of soils to absorb water and the capacity of watersheds to process post-fire precipitation events. This is particularly apparent in Southwest ecosystems where wildfire is commonly followed by a monsoon season characterized by intense summer thunderstorms. Powerful precipitation events after wildfire can trigger runoff, flooding, erosion, and debris flows. Like fire, these secondary events are also natural ecosystem processes, however they can negatively impact humans. The changes in hydrologic cycles that accompany large and severe fires can result in altered water quantity and quality, impacts to reservoirs and infrastructure, threats to wildlife, decreased ecosystem function, dangerous conditions such as flooding and debris flows for downstream communities, and destruction of natural and cultural values. These effects are of concern to resource managers, land owners, and communities alike.

Twitter icon
Facebook icon
RSS icon
YouTube icon