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Monitoring Concerns

Burned Soil
Compaction
Displacement
Ground Cover
Nutrient Cycling
Puddling
Regeneration
Surface Organics

The eight topics displayed here were identified by the soil scientists of Region 1 as the most important concerns or issues related to soil quality. Each topic has its own guidelines, methods for measurement, associated problems, methods for avoidance and amelioration, pertinent research and literature list.

Burned Soil

Soils are severely burned if all surface organic matter is consumed and the blackened layer is more than 1 inch deep. Oxidized soil (reddish color) is also indicative of severely burned soil.

  • DeBano, Leonard F. 1990. The effect of fire on soil properties. In: Harvey, Alan E.; Neuenschwander, Leon F., compilers. Proceedings-management and productivity of western-montane forest soils; 1990 April 10-12; Boise, ID. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-280. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. p. 151-156.
  • Fire Effects Information System (FEIS). (FEIS summarizes and synthesizes research about living organisms in the United States—their biology, ecology, and relationship to fire.)
  • Hungerford, Roger D.; Harrington, Michael G.; Frandsen, William H.; Ryan, Kevin C.; Niehoff, Gerald J. 1990. Influence of fire on factors that affect site productivity. In: Proceedings—Management and productivity of Western-montane forest soils, April 10–12, 1990, Boise, ID, USDA Forest Service General Technical Report INT-280, August 1991.
  • Page-Dumroese, Deborah; Jurgensen, Martin; Abbott, Ann; Rice, Tom; Tirocke, Joanne; Farley, Sue; DeHart, Sharon. 2006. Monitoring changes in soil quality from post-fire logging in the Inland Northwest. In: Andrews, Patricia L.; Butler, Bret W., comps. (2006). Fuels management. how to measure success: Conference Proceedings. 28-30 March 2006; Portland, OR. Proceedings RMRS-P-41. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 605–614.

Compaction

[Papers within publication that concern compaction are Soil Physical Properties as a Measure of Cropland Productivity by K. R. Olson; Soil Porosity as an Indication of Forest and Rangeland Soil Condition (Compaction) and Relative Productivity by E. B. Alexander and J. C. McLaughlin]

Displacement

Detrimental displacement is displacement that results in "the loss of as much as 1 inch or one-half of the humus-enriched surface layer (A-horizon), whichever is less." The loss of the organic layer alone could be detrimental on some marginal sites.

Lateral displacement of soil may decrease productivity by disruption of water distribution, damage to root systems or, in extreme cases, uprooting and toppling of trees. Studies have attempted to quantify the relationship between lateral soil displacement and productivity (Clayton 1987).

Natural erosion and slope failure are considered to be beyond the scope of this document, except where efforts to control them have altered the landscape forming processes (sedimentation dams, post-harvest mulching, contouring, etc.).

[Papers within publication that concern displacement are Soil Loss Tolerance as Related to Rangeland Productivity by Leonard F. DeBano and M. Karl Wood; Soil Physical Properties as a Measure of Cropland Productivity by K. R. Olson; Soil Porosity as an Indication of Forest and Rangeland Soil Condition (Compaction) and Relative Productivity by E. B. Alexander and J. C. McLaughlin]

Ground Cover

The minimum cover, following the cessation of disturbance in an activity area, should be sufficient to prevent accelerated runoff and prevent erosion from exceeding the rates of natural soil formation.

Erosion rates are dependent on soil erodibility (k-factor), erosivity (rainfall factor), and slope gradient and length. Local adjustment of these factors by geographic area or potential natural plant community types may be required.

On rangelands, at least 80% of the A or surface horizon should be occupied by abundant fine and very fine roots.

Nutrient Cycling

Puddling

The deformation of wet soil with sufficient clay results in puddling. Soil puddling that adversely affects hydrologic function and site productivity is detrimental.

Regeneration

Studies from the Pacific Northwest indicate that disturbance can reduce ectomycorrhizal formation and forest regeneration. However, the degrees of reduction and impact on forest regeneration vary widely and depend on many factors. Among these are the type and severity of disturbance, ectomycorrhizal diversity, climatic conditions, biotic conditions, and the effects of nonhosts over time. Mycorrhizal formation and regeneration are most greatly impacted on severely disturbed and environmentally limited sites. The rapid occupation of such sites by ectomycorrhizal host plants following disturbance is critical to stabilizing native mycorrhizal populations that may aid forest regeneration.

Surface Organics

Currently, there are no specific requirements for litter retention. Ground cover requirements generally assure sufficient litter retention.

The minimum amounts of large woody debris required to maintain nutrient supplies adequate to sustain site productivity are ascertained by research studies (Harvey, 1987).

In general, a figure of 15 tons per acre is used for harvested or burned sites. This figure varies by habitat type, from 10 to 40 tons per acre.