Fire is an important disturbance in riparian systems—consuming vegetation; increasing light; creating snags and debris flows; altering habitat structure; and affecting stream conditions, erosion, and hydrology. For many years, land managers have worked to keep fire out of riparian systems through the use of buffers. A number of projects funded by the Joint Fire Science Program are shedding light on the dynamics of fire in riparian systems. Recent research and field practice have shown that (1) riparian treatments can be beneficial and are not as risky as previously thought; and (2) riparian treatments need the “Goldilocks” prescribed fire—not too hot and not too cold—to be beneficial.
Image Source: Joint Fire Science Program