It’s a difficult time, we are still in shock, sad and grief stricken for the lives lost and the property lost, but we are #SONOMASTRONG; #NAPASTRONG and look forward to rebuilding. As hard as it seems right now, we need to think about preserving our land and preventing further damage due to soil erosion.
After a severe fire, the likelihood of soil erosion, causing mudslides, flooding and pollution increases upwards of 200%. The fires burn and destroy plant material and the litter layer. Under normal conditions shrubs, grasses, trees and the litter layer break up the intensity of severe rainstorms. Their roots stabilize the soil and stems and leaves slow the flow of water to give it time to penetrate the ground, preventing too much runoff. In some instances, the fire creates a gas that penetrates the soil profile. As the soil cools, this gas condenses and forms a waxy coating (hydrophobicity) which repels water and increases the rate of water runoff. This all leads to a dangerous situation, the runoff and debris will become too much for our stormwater drainage systems, which will lead to erosion elsewhere. Also, debris and the fast-moving water can cause mudslides, flood homes, businesses and neighborhoods, pollute our waterways and are a threat to our personal being; wreaking continued havoc in our community.
It is important we begin the work now to prevent any further damage to our city – our home. First and foremost, we need to come up with a restoration plan. This plan will have several focal points, including inspecting our drainage systems, cleaning our gutters, culverts, detention basins, small streams and concrete waterways. Our driveways, roadways, sidewalks and parking lots are often designed to sheet their runoff to the landscape, but now we must divert that runoff toward our storm drain systems and away from erosion prone areas. Minimizing traffic and proper watering will also help. Installing more culverts than previously existed might be necessary. A professional engineer can determine the size of the drainage area and the amount of runoff for the projected rainfall.
Reseeding grass and wildflowers in the severely burned areas will be carefully planned. Santa Rosa is home to 220 native plants, grasses, shrubs and trees. Which include black and valley oak trees, California grape and silver lupine shrubs, purple needle grass groundcover. After reseeding, covering the seeded area with straw is important for creating an environment for seed germination.
To read more about preventing erosion, click here. Also, Balance Hydrologics is a consulting firm committed to resolving clients environmental challenges using site-specific information and offers post-fire services. Visit their website by clicking here.