The connection between healthy forests and clean water

Forests are important ecosystems that provide a wide range of benefits to people and the environment. One of the most important benefits of forests is their role in providing clean water for drinking, agriculture, wildlife, and recreation by acting as natural water filters, removing pollutants and other impurities before they reach streams, rivers, and other water sources.

Collaboration between the NWTF, the USDA Forest Service, and the California Deer Association in timber transport pilot in the Klamath National Forest of Northern California reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires fostering a forest ecosystem that can better survive them. By creating a forest that can withstand wildfires, you will reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires, which can lead to increased sedimentation, decreased seepage, and degraded soil health, ultimately compromising water quality. By promoting a healthy forest ecosystem, we can ensure our watersheds continue to provide clean, reliable water for wildlife and our communities for years to come.

Wildfires not only have a short-term impact on water quality during the active burning period, but also have the potential to negatively affect water quality for months or even years after the fire has been contained.

When high intensity forest fires are active, they can have deleterious effects on water quality by depositing ash and other contaminants in streams, lakes, and water reservoirs, leading to contamination of drinking water and recreational areas. This can make it difficult and expensive to provide clean water to nearby communities. Additionally, after a significant wildfire, rain and runoff can mobilize ash, sediment, and other contaminants from the burned area and transport them to water sources far from the original burned area.

In addition, there are also many detrimental long-term impacts on water quality and quantity. When a wildfire occurs, the vegetation that is responsible for holding water and holding soil in place is often destroyed. This can lead to erosion and flooding, particularly in areas where the fire has been particularly intense. The absence of vegetation in the watershed can also reduce the total amount of water absorbed into the soil, leading to changes in water flow and water availability. This is particularly problematic in regions that rely on water from the affected watershed for drinking, agriculture, or other purposes, such as the Klamath National Forest.

The health of our national forests plays a vital role in the condition of our water, especially in California. Forests act as a source, filter, and regulator of water from upper watersheds to provide clean water for communities, wildlife habitats, and the industries that depend on it.

The Forest Service reports that the Klamath National Forest contributes approximately 995 billion gallons of water per year. This water is a critical resource for communities, agriculture, and industries in California, highlighting the importance of the work of the NWTF and its partners.

“The NWTF recognizes that the strong relationship between healthy forests and healthy watersheds in providing clean, high-quality water for people, places, and wild turkeys is a key conservation priority,” said Travis Smith, NWTF Western Water Specialist. .

These benefits highlight the importance of ongoing projects within the 20-year national stewardship agreement. To learn more about the NWTF’s efforts to address pressing conservation issues in the United States, you can read about America’s Big Six here.