Browsing Rangeland Ecology & Management, Volume 63, Number 4 (July 2010) by Authors
Hydrologic Response to Mechanical Shredding in a Juniper WoodlandCline, Nathan L.; Roundy, Bruce A.; Pierson, Fredrick B.; Kormos, Patrick; Williams, C. Jason (Society for Range Management, 2010-07-01)We investigated soil compaction and hydrologic responses from mechanically shredding Utah juniper (Juniperus ostesperma [Torr.] Little) to control fuels in a sagebrush/bunchgrass plant community (Artemisia nova A. Nelson, Artemisia tridentata Nutt. subsp. wyomingensis Beetle Young/Pseudoroegneria spicata [Pursh] A. Löve, Poa secunda J. Presl) on a gravelly loam soil with a 15% slope in the Onaqui Mountains of Utah. Rain simulations were applied on 0.5-m2 runoff plots at 64 mm h-1 (dry run: soil initially dry) and 102 mm h-1 (wet run: soil initially wet). Runoff and sediment were collected from runoff plots placed in five blocks, each containing four microsites (juniper mound, shrub mound, vegetation-free or bare interspace, and grass interspace) with undisturbed or tracked treatments for each microsite type and a residue-covered treatment for grass and bare interspace microsites. Soil penetration resistance was measured at the hill slope scale, and canopy and ground cover were measured at the hill slope and runoff plot scale. Although shredding trees at a density of 453 trees ha-1 reduced perennial foliar cover by 20.5%, shredded tree residue covered 40% of the ground surface and reduced non-foliar-covered bare ground and rock by 17%. Tire tracks from the shredding operation covered 15% of the hill slope and increased penetration resistance. For the wet run, infiltration rates of grass interspaces were significantly decreased (39.8 vs. 66.1 mm h-1) by tire tracks, but infiltration rates on juniper mounds and bare interspaces were unchanged. Bare interspace plots covered with residue had significantly higher infiltration rates (81.9 vs. 26.7 mm h-1) and lower sediment yields (38.6 vs. 313 g m-2) than those without residue. Because hydrologic responses to treatments are site- and scale-dependent, determination of shredding effects on other sites and at hill slope or larger scales will best guide management actions.