Large-scale erosion and flooding after severe wildfires are common, normal occurrences in mountainous or hilly terrain. These events include debris flows, mudflows, mudslides, gully erosion, landslides, and debris floods. When such phenomena occur away from human activity, they go largely unnoticed, even when they may be locally significant. However, in interface locations, these events attract media attention because they can be catastrophic, destroying infrastructure such as roads and water supply systems, property, and lives. In some parts of the Southern Interior, these events seemed more pronounced after the 2003 wildfires. By the end of 2004, at least five major soil erosion and/or flooding events related to the 2003 fires had occurred. Recent research in the Interior has shown that, since glaciation, similar large-scale erosion and flooding have repeatedly occurred after wildfires. These events significantly shape the post-glacial Interior landscape, with one result being large deposits on alluvial and colluvial fans.
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Updated May 11, 2007