High Park Fire Mulch Project


The goal of this project is to assess forest regeneration and soil productivity in response to three commonly-used post-fire rehabilitation mulch products (wood strands, wood shreds, and wheat straw). Mulch treatments were established immediately post-fire in an area that burned with high severity in the 2012 High Park Fire in the Colorado Rocky Mountains and was sampled for three years.


The results of this study are that all mulch, except for wheat straw, increased tree seedling densities compared to unmulched treatments after three years. Additionally, mulch type mattered: wheat straw and wood shreds decreased plant-available nitrogen compared to the unmulched control, and the rubber and wheat mulch increased plant cover. Thus, mulch may simultaneously promote and diminish ecosystem values at risk post-fire. No single mulch type is a panacea for post-fire recovery, and each type of mulch examined in this study may have both benefits and drawbacks for use in rehabilitating burned landscapes.

More information on this program will be available as the project develops.

Brett Wolk