Recently, The Nature Conservancy and the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) have released reports calling for restoration efforts in our forestland, particularly in the Sierra Nevada, to decrease the chance for mega-fires and increase water supply. The Sierra Nevada provides enough drinking water for 23 million people and is home to approximately two-thirds of California’s water.
By increasing restoration to California’s forests through mechanical thinning and restoring meadows, California will simultaneously decrease the risk of mega-fires – like the King Fire – while promoting a healthier forest and increase water runoff. Currently, dense forests impede snowfall on ground level and decrease the forests’ ability to store snow. More than 50 percent of meadows in the Sierra region have suffered due to land-use practices and diminishes their water capacity.
Restoration cannot solve California’s drought or cease large fires, but it is part of the solution. More importantly, there are economic benefits to restoration. Increased hydropower generation and water uses will cover between a third and the full cost of thinning. California can avoid paying $5 million a day like they had to for the King Fire, and will economically benefit from an increase in water.
To learn more about these solutions, visit Sierra Nevada’s fact sheet on the Watershed Improvement Program, The Nature Conservancy’s Water Supply Benefits from Forest Restoration Report, and the Association of California Water Agencies’ (ACWA) Improving California’s Headwater report.