Slash from the Past: Rehabilitating Pile Burn Scars

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Burn slash piles can create openings in the forest that remain treeless for over 50 years, and can also have the short-term impacts of increasing nutrient availability and creating opportunities for weed establishment. Working with managers, researchers from the Rocky Mountain Research Station evaluated the available treatments for short-term rehabilitation of both smaller, hand-built and larger, machine-built burn piles. For the smaller piles, they found that both soil nitrogen and plant cover recovered to a level similar to that of the surrounding forest within two years, indicating that these scars may not need rehabilitation unless in a sensitive area. For the larger piles, mechanical treatment either alone or with seeding did not increase plant cover.