The Effect of Management on Erosion of Civil War Battlefield Earthworks
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Since 1936 National Park Service has been charged with preserving Civil War Earthworks while allowing public access. Soil erosion, both natural and human-induced, is a major concern facing the preservation of the earthworks. Currently, the National Park Service is committed to preserving these earthworks for future generations by determining which maintenance activities cause the least soil erosion. This study was undertaken to determine which management practice; burned, mowed, park-forest, forested, or trimmed, best minimized soil erosion. A secondary objective was to determine how several empirical formulas (e.g. Universal Soil Loss Equation) and one field estimate (e.g. erosion pins) compared soil erosion trends for the 5 treatments. A third objective of this study was to gather information regarding the soil development which has occurred during the 135 + years since the earthworks were constructed. Earthworks managed by prescribed burning suffered the greatest erosion rates while the forested earthworks eroded the least. The trimmed and mowed management regimes were not significantly different and would provide adequate erosion protection while the forested treatment had significantly less erosion. Based on the empirical models, erosion was primarily a function of ground cover; on the other hand, rain intensity was highly influential for erosion as measured by the erosion pins. All of the erosion estimation methods concurred that the burned treatment should be avoided due to the high erosion rates while the erosion pins indicated that the park-forest treatment could potentially have erosion problems as well. Soil profile descriptions from the earthworks revealed that A horizon depths on the earthworks were not significantly different then the A horizons found on the relatively undisturbed adjacent forest floor and that subsurface soil structure has begun to develop on earthwork soils.
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