USDA Forest Service

Post-fire Treatment Effectiveness for Hillslope Stabilization

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Erosion Barrier Performance Characteristics

Erosion barrier performance impacts erosion barrier treatment effectiveness (reduction in sediment yield at the base of the hillslope). Erosion barrier performance has been quantified two ways:
1. the amount of sediment held by the erosion barrier(s) is compared to the total amount of sediment that was mobilized.
2. the actual volume of sediment stored behind an erosion barrier is compared to the total sediment storage capacity of that erosion barrier (fig. 1).

Schematic of measurements made on a contour-felled log to calculate the sediment storage capacity of the erosion barrier.

The sediment-trapping ability of any erosion barrier installation is dependent on the site characteristics (for example, slope and soil type), the individual erosion barrier features (such as diameter, length, accuracy of contour placement, and seal between the barrier and the ground), and the density and pattern of erosion barriers over the landscape. Erosion barrier performance is highest when they are new and have little or no sediment stored behind them. Over time, performance decreases, due to loss of sediment storage capacity and breakdown of the barrier installation, such as loss of ground-barrier sealing, movement of the barriers to off-contour positions, etc. Not surprisingly, erosion barrier hillslope treatments are most effective for the first few sediment-producing events with performance and treatment effectiveness declining over time.

The information on this web page has been excerpted from the following publication:

Robichaud, Peter R.; Ashmun, Louise E.; Sims, Bruce D. 2010. Post-fire treatment effectiveness for hillslope stabilization. Gen Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-240. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 62 p.

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