What is your emergency soil stabilization plan? This can be done in various high-tech and low-tech ways.

Test and Stabilize the Soil First

After human health and safety, the first priority is to protect the soils from rain and run-off.  In the immediate aftermath of a fire, engineering remedies such as fabrics, wattles, check dams, etc. will help stabilize soil. Restoring vegetation is a long-term remedy but takes months to take effect, while engineering solutions have an immediate effect. According to U.S. Forest Service research, mulching with wood chips is an effective, short-term solution but may be difficult to apply over large areas.  Fallen plant debris can also be spread across burned areas to provide some protection.  In sections that burned very hot, a water repellent layer may form on the top of the soil. This can be tested easily by pouring water onto burned soils: if the water pools on the surface, then it is considered hydrophobic (water will not penetrate).  In these areas, nutrient availability (like phosphorus) for the successful growing of plants may also be affected after fire.

Soil Erosion Control, Guam, Aug 2019 (Credit: JB Friday)

Consider Various Methods to Prevent Erosion

In severely burned areas and steeper zones, contour felling of dead trees or using fiber rolls and straw wattles can help slow down water movement and downslope soil loss.  Steep slopes can also be stabilized with check dams, jute bags, hydromulch, erosion control mats and silt fences.  More detailed info on applying these methods can be found here for burned landscapes and here for protecting your home from post-fire erosion and debris flows. Wherever possible, use local materials and best management practices (see below) to minimize the potential of moving invasive pests.

Learn More About Erosion and Soil Stabilization