A Reconnaissance of the Effects of a Forest Fire on Water Quality in Kings Canyon National Park

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Wisps of smoke rise from a prescribed burn in a giant sequoia forest.

Tony Caprio Photo

A Reconnaissance of the Effects of a Forest Fire on Water Quality in Kings Canyon National Park, California. R.J. Hoffman and R.F. Ferreira. 1976. USDI Geological Survey, Menlo Park, CA, Open-File Report 76-497. 17 pp.

ABSTRACT

Following two adjancent forest fires in the Roaring River drainage basin, Kings Canyon National Park, a sampling program was undertaken from May to July 1974 to ascertain water-quality changes resulting from the fires.

Field measurements included alkalinity, pH, specific conductance, temperature, and discharge. Water samples were analyzed in the laboratory for major dissolved chemical constituents, selected plant nutrients, trace metals, suspended sediment, total organic carbon, and seston. Periphytic algae and benthic invertebrate samples were collected.

A noticeable increase in the concentration of nitrogen was found in Roaring River immediately downstream from the Moraine Creek fire. The increase in concentration of inorganic nitrogen compounds, however, was not great enough to pose a series threat to the aquatic ecosystem. High total organic nitrogen concentrations may have been due, in part, to factors other than the effect of fire. The results of other water-quality measurements were typical of dilute Sierra Nevada streams and indicate that Roaring River was not adversely affected by the fires.

Last updated: March 1, 2015

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