Scottsdale invests to protect water resources

Northern Arizona forestlands will thrive with a newly approved three-year partnership between the National Forest Foundation (NFF) and Scottsdale City Council to improve forest health and water quality in the Salt and Verde River watersheds.

“Scottsdale has a long history of promoting stewardship of both our water supplies and our water quality,” Scottsdale Mayor W.J. “Jim” Lane said. “Scottsdale is committed to supporting this important effort to restore our state’s forests and watersheds. It is essential not only for Scottsdale, but for the entire state of Arizona.”

The city’s Water Resources Division will tackle watershed improvement projects with a $120,000 investment in the Northern Arizona Forest Fund, which was developed by the NFF and Salt River Project (SRP) in 2014 to spur awareness, interest and investment in watershed health, working with local governments, businesses and Arizona residents wishing to invest in their own lands and watersheds.

The NFF partners with the U.S. Forest Service, local nonprofits and private contractors on projects reducing wildfire risk, improving streams and wetlands, enhancing wildlife habitats, restoring native plants, and limiting erosion and sediment in Arizona streams, rivers and reservoirs.

“The water from the watersheds that fill the reservoirs in SRP's water system starts as rain and snow in the forests of northern Arizona,” Mark Bonsai, SRP’s CEO and general manager, said. “Stewardship of these watersheds is a fundamental principle for SRP… . We are very pleased that the city of Scottsdale has decided to partner with us and the NFF in this important effort.”

Municipal investment in watershed health is becoming more common across the West, including Arizona. With forest-based communities such as Flagstaff and Payson having formed partnerships to support forest health work in their watersheds, the city of Phoenix followed suit earlier this year, creating a similar partnership with the NFF to support the Northern Arizona Forest Fund.

In 2015-16, the Northern Arizona Forest Fund will implement six high-priority projects on northern Arizona’s five National Forests -- the Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, Kaibab, Prescott and Tonto National Forests.

Founded by Congress in 1993, the National Forest Foundation works to conserve, restore and enhance America’s 193-million-acre National Forest System.

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