Wildfire and Water Repellent Soils

Article Written by:
Yvonne Barkley, University of Idaho Extension, Moscow, ID



Water repellent soils med photo.jpg

One common physical change to forest soils after wildfires is water repellency. Water repellent soils have a limited ability to retain or absorb water, which can result in increased erosion, altered substrate water recharge and quicker stream flow delivery with the increased potential for flooding. Wildfires create water repellent layers by partially volatilizing organic compounds in the soil that then condense onto cooler soil particles and form a waxy …