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A coupled modelling approach to assess the effect of fuel treatments on post-wildfire runoff and erosion
- Sidman, Gabriel, Guertin, D. Phillip, Goodrich, David C., Thoma, David, Falk, Donald, Burns, I. Shea
- The International journal of wildland fire 2016 v.25 no.3 pp. 351-362
- case studies, fire behavior, fire severity, fuels (fire ecology), landscapes, models, national parks, prescribed burning, runoff, watersheds, wildfires
- The hydrological consequences of wildfires are among their most significant and long-lasting effects. As wildfire severity affects post-fire hydrological response, fuel treatments can be a useful tool for land managers to moderate this response. However, current models focus on only one aspect of the fire–watershed linkage (fuel treatments, fire behaviour, fire severity, watershed responses). This study outlines a spatial modelling approach that couples three models used sequentially to allow managers to model the effects of fuel treatments on post-fire hydrological responses. Case studies involving a planned prescribed fire at Zion National Park and a planned mechanical thinning at Bryce Canyon National Park were used to demonstrate the approach. Fuel treatments were modelled using FuelCalc and FlamMap within the Wildland Fire Assessment Tool (WFAT). The First Order Fire Effects Model (FOFEM) within WFAT was then used to evaluate the effectiveness of the fuel treatments by modelling wildfires on both treated and untreated landscapes. Post-wildfire hydrological response was then modelled using KINEROS2 within the Automated Geospatial Watershed Assessment tool (AGWA). This coupled model approach could help managers estimate the effect of planned fuel treatments on wildfire severity and post-wildfire runoff or erosion, and compare various fuel treatment scenarios to optimise resources and maximise mitigation results.