USDA Forest Service

Pacific Southwest Research Station

Pacific Southwest
Research Station

800 Buchanan Street
Albany, CA 94710-0011
(510) 883-8830
United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service. USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.

Potential nutrient emissions from prescribed fire in the Lake Tahoe Basin

Prescribed burningPrincipal Investigators:
Paul Verburg, Desert Research Institute
Rick Susfalk, Desert Research Institute
Antony Chen, Desert Research Institute

Proposal [pdf]

Final Report [pdf]

Additional Report: Chen et al. 2010 [pdf]

Please contact Dr. Paul Verburg with questions regarding the reports.

Project Summary

Prescribed fire is a common management practice for reducing excessive forest fuel loading to minimize the risk of wildfire. Prescribed fire may, however, adversely impact air and water quality by releasing nutrients from soils and vegetation upon combustion. The quantity and quality of nutrients released is dependent on fuel characteristics and environmental conditions. Fuel moisture is an important variable that can impact nutrient release since it affects combustion conditions.

This study assessed the carbon and nitrogen release as affected by fuel moisture during a prescribed fire near Incline Village, Nevada following mechanical thinning. The field component of this study involved a pre- and post-fire fuel inventory to estimate carbon and nitrogen losses under fall fuel moisture conditions. The laboratory component of the study further investigated effects of moisture on nutrient release and speciation and focused on the main gaseous and particulate carbon and nitrogen species that can affect air quality.