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Sarah A. Lewis

Civil Engineer

1221 South Main Street
Moscow, ID 83843
Contact Sarah A. Lewis

Current Research

My current research interests are post-wildfire soil erosion and remote sensing. I help organize and lead crews in collecting ground truth data for remotely sensed hyperspectral imagery. I support P.R. Robichaud in his research, am responsible for data analysis of both the ground and image data, and aid in publication writing.

Research Interests

Modeling and mitigation techniques of hydrology and erosion after timber-harvest, prescribed fires and wildfires. This includes experiments that study hydrology, erodibility, vegeation recovery and water repellency. Using the process-based understandings, we predict erosion from spatially-varied, complex hillslopes. Develop and implement new monitoring methods and evaluate mitigation techniques.

Past Research

Erosion is a natural process; however, past management activities have caused degradation of water quality in numerous watersheds throughout various landscapes. Therefore, we develop tools and information to help managers make better decisions based on today's and future climates for improved management of our natural resources as well as impacts on life and property. Our tools and results are used by post-fire assessment teams, land management agencies, private interests, tribal and state governments.

Why This Research is Important

We learned the proper moisture content needed for prescribed fires to prevent increased or accelerated erosion and developed a tool to measure that moisture content for instantaneous readings in the field; We are able to predict post-fire erosion rates and effectiveness of selected mitigation treatments.


  • Washington State University, B.S., Biological Systems Engineering, 1999
  • Washington State University, M.S., Biological Systems Engineering, 2003
  • Featured Publications


    Flitcroft, Rebecca; Lewis, Sarah A.; Arismendi, Ivan; Davis, Chante; Giannico, Guillermo; Penaluna, Brooke; Santelmann, Mary; Safeeq, Mohammad; Snyder, Jeff, 2019. Using expressed behaviour of coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) to evaluate the vulnerability of upriver migrants under future hydrological regimes: Management implications and conservation planning
    Larson-Nash, Sierra S.; Robichaud, Pete R.; Pierson, Fredrick B.; Moffet, Corey A.; Williams, C. Jason; Spaeth, Kenneth E.; Brown, Robert E.; Lewis, Sarah A., 2018. Recovery of small-scale infiltration and erosion after wildfires
    Hudak, Andrew T.; Freeborn, Patrick; Lewis, Sarah A.; Hood, Sharon M.; Smith, Helen Y.; Hardy, Colin C.; Kremens, Robert J.; Butler, Bret W.; Teske, Casey; Tissell, Robert G.; Queen, Lloyd P.; Nordgren, Bryce L.; Bright, Benjamin C.; Morgan, Penelope; Riggan, Philip J.; Macholz, Lee; Lentile, Leigh B.; Riddering, James P.; Mathews, Edward E., 2018. The Cooney Ridge Fire Experiment: An early operation to relate pre-, active, and post-fire field and remotely sensed measurements
    Lewis, Sarah A.; Hudak, Andrew T.; Robichaud, Peter R.; Morgan, Penelope; Satterberg, Kevin L.; Strand, Eva K.; Smith, Alistair M. S.; Zamudio, Joseph A.; Lentile, Leigh B., 2017. Indicators of burn severity at extended temporal scales: a decade of ecosystem response in mixed-conifer forests of western Montana
    Safeeq, Mohammad; Shukla, Shraddhanand; Arismendi, Ivan; Grant, Gordon E.; Lewis, Sarah A.; Nolin, Anne., 2015. Influence of winter season climate variability on snow-precipitation ratio in the western United States
    Safeeq, Mohammad; Grant, Gordon E.; Lewis, Sarah A.; Staab, Brian, 2015. Predicting landscape sensitivity to present and future floods in the Pacific Northwest, USA
    Morgan, Penelope; Moy, Marshell; Droske, Christine A.; Lewis, Sarah A.; Lentile, Leigh B.; Robichaud, Pete R.; Hudak, Andrew T.; Williams, Christopher J., 2015. Vegetation response to burn severity, native grass seeding, and salvage logging
    Morgan, Penelope; Moy, Marshell; Droske, Christine A.; Lentile, Leigh B.; Lewis, Sarah A.; Robichaud, Pete R.; Hudak, Andrew T., 2014. Vegetation response after post-fire mulching and native grass seeding
    Robichaud, Pete R.; Lewis, Sarah A.; Wagenbrenner, Joseph W.; Ashmun, Louise E.; Brown, Robert E., 2013. Post-fire mulching for runoff and erosion mitigation; Part I: Effectiveness at reducing hillslope erosion rates
    Robichaud, Pete R.; Wagenbrenner, Joseph W.; Lewis, Sarah A.; Ashmun, Louise E.; Brown, Robert E.; Wohlgemuth, Peter M., 2013. Post-fire mulching for runoff and erosion mitigation; Part II: Effectiveness in reducing runoff and sediment yields from small catchments
    Lewis, Sarah A.; Robichaud, Pete R.; Hudak, Andrew T.; Austin, Brian; Liebermann, Robert J., 2012. Utility of remotely sensed imagery for assessing the impact of salvage logging after forest fires
    Robichaud, Pete R.; Lewis, Sarah A.; Brown, Robert E.; Ashmun, Louise E., 2009. Emergency post-fire rehabilitation treatment effects on burned area ecology and long-term restoration
    Grant, Gordon E.; Lewis, Sarah A.; Swanson, Frederick J.; Cissel, John H.; McDonnell, Jeffrey J., 2008. Effects of forest practices on peak flows and consequent channel response: a state-of-science report for western Oregon and Washington.
    Jefferson, Anne; Nolin, Anne; Lewis, Sarah A.; Tague, Christina, 2008. Hydrogeologic controls on streamflow sensitivity to climate variation
    Lewis, Sarah A.; Robichaud, Pete R.; Frazier, Bruce E.; Wu, Joan Q.; Laes, Denise Y. M., 2008. Using hyperspectral imagery to predict post-wildfire soil water repellency
    Tague, Christina; Farrell, Michael; Grant, Gordon; Lewis, Sarah A.; Rey, Serge, 2007. Hydrogeologic controls on summer stream temperatures in the McKenzie River basin, Oregon
    Lentile, Leigh; Morgan, Penny; Hardy, Colin C.; Hudak, Andrew T.; Means, Robert; Ottmar, Roger; Robichaud, Pete R.; Sutherland, Elaine K.; Way, Frederick; Lewis, Sarah A., 2007. Lessons learned from Rapid Response Research on wildland fires
    Lewis, Sarah A.; Lentile, Leigh B.; Hudak, Andrew T.; Robichaud, Peter R.; Morgan, Penelope; Bobbitt, Michael J., 2007. Mapping ground cover using hyperspectral remote sensing after the 2003 Simi and Old wildfires in southern California
    Lentile, Leigh B.; Morgan, Penelope; Hudak, Andrew T.; Bobbitt, Michael J.; Lewis, Sarah A.; Smith, Alistair M. S.; Robichaud, Peter R., 2007. Post-fire burn severity and vegetation response following eight large wildfires across the Western United States
    Robichaud, Pete R.; Lewis, Sarah A.; Laes, Denise Y. M.; Hudak, Andrew T.; Kokaly, Raymond F.; Zamudio, Joseph A., 2007. Postfire soil burn severity mapping with hyperspectral image unmixing
    Hudak, Andrew T.; Morgan, Penelope; Bobbitt, Michael J.; Smith, Allstair M. S.; Lewis, Sarah A.; Lentile, Leigh B.; Robichaud, Pete R.; Clark, Jess T.; McKinley, Randy A., 2007. The relationship of multispectral satellite imagery to immediate fire effects
    Lentile, Leigh B.; Holden, Zachary A.; Smith, Alistair M. S.; Falkowski, Michael J.; Hudak, Andrew T.; Morgan, Penelope; Lewis, Sarah A.; Gessler, Paul E.; Benson, Nate C., 2006. Remote sensing techniques to assess active fire characteristics and post-fire effects
    Hudak, Andrew T.; Lewis, Sarah A.; Robichaud, Pete R.; Morgan, P.; Bobbitt, M.; Lentile, L.; Smith, A.; Holden, Z.; Clark, J.; McKinley, R., 2006. Sensitivity of Landsat image-derived burn severity indices to immediate post-fire effects
    Lewis, Sarah A.; Robichaud, Peter R.; Elliot, William J.; Frazier, Bruce E.; Wu, Joan Q., 2004. Hyperspectral remote sensing of postfire soil properties
    The costs of fighting wildfires have dramatically increased in the past decade, as have the size and severity of wildfires. Rocky Mountain Research Station scientists and collaborators at the University of Idaho undertook a literature review and case study analysis to answer the question: Can fuel treatments mitigate wildfire effects?
    Many large fires have occurred in recent decades across the western United States and projections predict this trend to continue with increasingly warmer and drier conditions, meaning extensive areas have and will burn severely. Accurate estimates of fuel conditions and vegetation recovery rates of various ecosystems with time since last burn would assist fuel and fire management decisions. Understanding vegetation response trajectories based upon burn severity and other post-burn indicators will increase our ability to effectively prioritize management options and planning to address long-term fuel and fire management objectives.

    RMRS Science Program Areas: 
    Air, Water and Aquatic Environments