The National Forrest Foundation (NFF) and Scottsdale City Council approved a three-year partnership where they will strive to improve forest health and water equality in the watersheds of the Salt and Verde Rivers.
With a $120,000 investment in the Northern Arizona Forest Fund, created by the NFF and Salt River Project (SRP) in 2014, the city’s Water Resources Division will deal with watershed improvements.
SRP Senior Analyst, Rebecca Davidson told Arizona Business Daily “Forests in northern Arizona are the lifeblood of SRP’s water supply to metropolitan Phoenix. The runoff from rain and snow that falls on those forests flows downstream, filling Salt and Verde River reservoirs. When those forests are healthy, they protect winter snowpack, preventing it from melting too fast. And they filter runoff so that water flowing into reservoirs is clean and relatively free of sediment. Scorched forests do the opposite, exposing snow to excessive sunlight, which causes it to melt more quickly. Post-fire flooding and runoff from fire-scarred areas drains into SRP’s reservoirs and brings with it ash and debris. This waste settles at the base of the dams, reducing reservoir capacity, affecting water quality and causing maintenance problems for water infrastructure.”
Ensuring long-term and sustainable water supplies for Arizona residents is the goal with improving the watersheds and bringing them back to more natural conditions. This is obtainable by improving forest health.
The Northern Arizona Forrest fund is implementing high priority projects in the Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, Kaibab, Prescott and Tonto National Forests.
Davidson said, “The future of Northern Arizona Forestlands looks bright – the vision is a restored landscape, resilient to drought and fire, that moves us closer to more historic ecological conditions, that includes restorative low-intensity fire. Through improved conditions, we benefit from cleaner air and a more certain future for the water supplies that are so important to the environment and to local and state economies. But there is still much work to do. And we in Arizona must work together to innovate solutions, to create efficiencies in process, and to get work done on-the-ground. Everyone has a role to play and has a stake in our future.”
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