To reduce the hazards from debris flows in drainage basins burned by wildfire, erosion control measures such as construction of check dams, installation of log erosion barriers (LEBs), and spreading of straw mulch and seed are common practice. After the 2002 Missionary Ridge Fire in southwest Colorado, these measures were implemented at Knight Canyon above Lemon Dam to protect the intake structures of the dam from being filled with sediment. Hillslope erosion protection measures included LEBs at concentrations of 220-620/ha (200-600% of typical densities), straw mulch was hand spread at concentrations up to 5.6??metric tons/hectare (125% of typical densities), and seeds were hand spread at 67-84??kg/ha (150% of typical values). The mulch was carefully crimped into the soil to keep it in place. In addition, 13 check dams and 3 debris racks were installed in the main drainage channel of the basin. The technical literature shows that each mitigation method working alone, or improperly constructed or applied, was inconsistent in its ability to reduce erosion and sedimentation. At Lemon Dam, however, these methods were effective in virtually eliminating sedimentation into the reservoir, which can be attributed to a number of factors: the density of application of each mitigation method, the enhancement of methods working in concert, the quality of installation, and rehabilitation of mitigation features to extend their useful life. The check dams effectively trapped the sediment mobilized during rainstorms, and only a few cubic meters of debris traveled downchannel, where it was intercepted by debris racks. Using a debris volume-prediction model developed for use in burned basins in the Western U.S., recorded rainfall events following the Missionary Ridge Fire should have produced a debris flow of approximately 10,000??m3 at Knight Canyon. The mitigation measures, therefore, reduced the debris volume by several orders of magnitude. For comparison, rainstorm-induced debris flows occurred in two adjacent canyons at volumes within the range predicted by the model. ?? 2007 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Additional publication details
Effective mitigation of debris flows at Lemon Dam, La Plata County, Colorado