Date of Graduation

Spring 5-20-2021

Document Access

Restricted Project/Capstone - USF access only

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Management (MSEM)

College/School

College of Arts and Sciences

Department/Program

Environmental Management

First Advisor

Amalia Kokkinaki

Second Advisor

John Callaway

Abstract

Wildfires in and around the Wildlife Urban Interface cause life threatening soil destabilization, and in cases of structural burn, introduce persistent organic pollutants and heavy metals into the environment. As temperatures rise and the wildlife urban interface continues to grow, anthropogenic fires will become more frequent, as will the need for efficient soil management practices that address soil stabilization and soil remediation.

The two main needs this paper will seek to address are soil stabilization and soil remediation. While fires affect the physical, chemical, and biological attributes of soils, addressing physical and chemical damages first ultimately ameliorates the negative effects of fires on soil microbial communities and megafauna. This assessment is performed through a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis of each technique, considering the most pressing needs of post burn management.

The most effective proven treatment for stabilization is simply providing soil mulch in the form of straw. This outcompetes log contour felling, straw wattles, and silt fences in achieving maximum soil erosion reduction, its greatest strength. However, it is not fit for all hillslope burns, with steepness or wind shear great enough to neutralize any added benefits of cover. Oxidation and phytoremediation also show promise in remediating fire affected soils within the WUI, which are characterized by pollution with Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and heavy metals in the case of structural burns and burns of certain types of vegetation.

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