The potential for severe soil erosion is a consequence of wildfire because as a fire burns it destroys plant material and the litter layer. Shrubs, forbs, grasses, trees, and the litter layer break up the intensity of severe rainstorms. Plant roots stabilize the soil, and stems and leaves slow the water to give it time to percolate into the soil profile. Fire can destroy this soil protection, but there are ways to help reduce the amount of soil erosion.


Quick Facts

  • The most immediate consequence of fire is the potential for soil erosion.
  • Intense heat from fire can make the soil repel water, a condition called hydrophobicity.
  • Landowners should take quick action to minimize erosion once it’s safe to return to the property:
    • Fell damaged trees to slow water runoff after rainfall
    • Create check dams in drainages using straw bales
    • Spread straw to protect the soil and reseeding efforts
    • Use water bars to reduce soil erosion on roads.