Monday, 17 November 2003: 2:30 PM
A 12-year post-fire assessment of riparian habitat conditions of the Dudefire in central Arizona
In July of 1990 the Dude wildfire burned over 27,000 acres on the Tonto National Forest including riparian habitat of several headwater streams. The ridges, slopes, and mesas were reseeded with weeping lovegrass (Eragrostis curvula). Riparian areas were reseeded with a variety of native and nonnative grasses. A post-fire evaluation of burned and unburned habitats was conducted to characterize the differences in vegetation and soil attributes. Plant composition analyses of upland habitats revealed the presence of 36 species in burned sites, of which 8 were exclusive. In contrast, 59 plant species were found on unburned sites with 32 species being exclusive. Average percent herbaceous cover on burned and unburned was 9.8 and 4.5, respectively. Weeping lovegrass cover comprised about 6.9 percent of herbaceous cover. Percent litter and soil cover on burned sites averaged 47 and 23, and 69 and 11 on unburned sites, respectively. Weeping lovegrass has established to form a monoculture, virtually to the exclusion of other native graminoids and forbs. Riparian vegetation responses were different. Average herbaceous cover ranged from about 27 to 63 percent on burned, in contrast to 22 percent on unburned. However, a greater percentage (98.5) of native plant species were found on unburned compared to a range of 48 to 71 percent on burned. Soil samples of burned and unburned sites are being analyzed for determination of their chemical and physical properties. The implications of direct and indirect effects of post-fire rehabilitation are discussed in depth with respect to wildlife and riparian habitats.
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