Forest to Faucet Partnership

Photo of Harris Sherman and District Ranger Jan Cutts from Summit County Citizens Voice

Here is an excellent piece by Bob Berwyn on this effort to protect watersheds- joint effort by the Forest Service and Denver Water. It’s got climate change, bark beetle, water, landscape scale, all lands.. many of our key themes on this blog.

Denver Water and the U.S. Forest Service will join forces to treat about 38,000 acres of critical watersheds to try and prevent catastrophic damage to key streams and reservoirs, top officials announced Saturday, speaking at a press conference at the Dillon Marina, within sight of Denver Water’s largest mountain reservoir.

The precedent-setting $33 million “Forest to Faucet” partnership covers about 6,000 acres in the Blue River watershed in Summit County, including 4,700 acres already planned for treatment by the Forest Service, plus another 1,300 acres to be treated when Denver Water pitches in another $1 million starting Oct. 1. Other projects are planned around Strontia Springs, Gross, Antero, Eleven Mile Canyon and Cheeseman reservoirs.

The partnership was announced in the context of the pine beetle epidemic that’s wiped out about 3 million acres of lodgepole pine forests in the state.

Part of the Forest Service share of the funding will come from money that’s already been allocated to the Rocky Mountain region of the Forest Service, said Harris Sherman, Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment. Additionally, several national forests in Colorado competed favorably for a separate slice of forest health funds that will also specifically toward these critical watershed treatments…

“The Forest Service can’t do this alone,” said Sherman, adding that about 33 million people in 13 states depend on water that come from Colorado watersheds. “Maintaining these forests is everybody’s business. I applaud Denver Water for their long-term investment in our national forest watersheds.”

The work will focus in thinning, fuel reduction, creating fire breaks, erosion control decommissioning roads, and, eventually, reforestation. The partnership could serve as a model for similar agreements across the West and with other industries, Sherman added, singling out the ski industry and power companies with infrastructure on forested lands.

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