Assessing the Effectiveness of Environmentally-Friendly Bio-stabilization Maintenance Strategies on Hillsides Affected by Wildfire

Research Lead: Ingrid Tomac

University: UC San Diego

Problem Statement: Hillsides ravaged by wildfire can be prone to catastrophic mudslides. Current preservation treatments include placing downed trees on slopes or covering slopes with mulches or polymers. These approaches can be effective but may be difficult to implement on steep hillsides. In addition, mulches may introduce non-native vegetation and are not always locally available in the quantities needed

Project Description: This project will conduct an experimental performance assessment of environmentally friendly biopolymers for stabilizing hillsides at risk for mudslides. Steep hillsides covered with laboratory-made hydrophobic silty and sandy soils will be subjected to different rain intensity experiments and environmental exposure. Specific objectives are to: (1) correlate soil type, slope angle, soil hydrophobicity level, and rain intensity to rate of water runoff and sediment erosion; (2) assess the short-term effectiveness of full and partial patterned slope coverage with biopolymer; (3) develop optimal procedures for drone-assisted slope coverage with biopolymer, and (4) evaluate long- term environmental impacts on water runoff and erosion on test hillsides.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $74,688

Project Partner(s): Caltrans