Soil Erosion Control After Wildfire

Wildfires that have swept through parts of the country have done plenty of damage. But once a fire is out, there is another environmental concern: soil erosion.

Hughes Simpson is a program coordinator for the Texas Forest Service. He says fire intensity is a key factor. Fires that burn so hot that the forest canopy and understory are completely consumed leave only bare soil. This puts the land at risk for soil erosion. Soil type will also influence the erosion potential.

"If you have more of a sandy soil type, you could be looking at increased erosion rates compared to a soil that would have more of a clay content to it. The topography of the landscape that was burned is another critical factor, and then the amount of precipitation that occurs following a wildfire," explains Simpson. "And this is not just the total amount of rainfall that falls, but it's the intensity at which it does fall."

A landowner's first instinct is to clean up after a wildfire. But Simpson says while doing this, it's important to immediately control erosion.

"Seeding the area with a mix of native seed, grass, and forbs species. Sometimes you have to use some temporary cover crops to get some vegetation back on the landscape. Other methods could be using some silt fences in key areas, or contour log terraces, erosion control mats," he says. "There's a host of products that are available, some are better suited for particular areas than others."

Find more information on controlling soil erosion after a wildfire