Healthy Forests Resilient Water Supply Vibrant Economy. Ecological Restoration Institute

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1 Healthy Forests Resilient Water Supply Vibrant Economy Ecological Restoration Institute

2 How Water Gets to Your Home MOST OF THE VALLEY S WATER SUPPLY comes from winter precipitation and runoff from Arizona mountains. Snow melts and drains into tributaries and is stored in reservoirs on the Salt and Verde rivers. SRP then releases the water into an extensive canal system, which carries supplies to city treatment plants where it is treated and delivered to homes and businesses. UPPER LEFT: Snow in the high country blankets mountains like the Sierra Anchas northeast of Phoenix. It eventually melts and makes its way to desert communities downstream.

3 COCONINO NATIONAL FOREST 1909 Then FORT VALLEY, NEAR FLAGSTAFF TODAY Now UNHEALTHY FORESTS IMPACT US ALL! Over the last century, Arizona s forests have grown crowded with thickets of weak, spindly trees that compete for sunlight, water and nutrients and crowd out other plants. Unhealthy trees are susceptible to insects, disease and fire. Unnaturally thick forests burn hotter and typically result in crown fires that destroy the landscape down to the soil. Without vegetation to absorb rain, storm water runs down burned slopes and causes flooding impacts below. Flood waters carry ash and debris downstream, which is costly for cities to treat. UPPER RIGHT: High intensity, catastrophic fires are devastating to Arizona s natural resources, local communities, and to the state economy.

4 WILDFIRE IMPACTS ON VALLEY WATER SUPPLIES Ash and debris are transported by streams and stored in reservoirs. Sedimentation reduces water storage capacity. Poor water quality affects taste and purity. Costs at city treatment plants increase. UPPER LEFT: Following the 2012 Sunflower Fire in the Sycamore Creek drainage, water quality was visibly impacted. Because of the location of the fire in the lower part of the Verde Watershed, the runoff and flood debris went directly into the stream system below SRP s reservoirs. Thus, turbidity measurements increased from 2,500 to 4,000 times normal levels. Reservoirs buffer the effects of flooding following catastrophic wildfire. Eventually however, downstream water treatment plants must address the long-term impacts to our water system.

5 Pay Some Now? Restoring forests to healthy conditions ranges from $500 $1,000 per acre. Our Choice Pay a Lot Later? Suppression and recovery from a wildfire can cost up to 30 times more than restoration, and fire effects linger for decades. WHAT IS FOREST RESTORATION? Forest restoration is an intentional effort to improve wildland health by returning overgrown forests to a resilient, more open and diverse condition through specific treatments. Treatments include: Mechanically thinning excess small trees. Reintroducing fire to thinned forests through prescribed burns. UPPER RIGHT: Unhealthy, overcrowded forests fuel enormous, devastating wildfires like the 2011 Wallow Fire that threatened White Mountain communities like Greer.

6 THERE IS ROOM TO LEARN SRP and NAU researchers will study forest restoration treatments as they begin. Research will increase our understanding of the relationship between forests, fire and water. Science will help land managers with decisions that impact Valley water. The quality and abundance of Arizona s water supply depends on your support! There are risks and costs to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction. JOHN F. KENNEDY Forest Restoration is Happening on the Ground The Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI) will return resiliency to 2.4 million acres across northern Arizona. Industries and businesses are exploring creative solutions to develop marketable products from small diameter trees and other biomass removed from the forest. Organizations and schools are promoting awareness through educational forest programs. Photo courtesy Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, USDA Forest Service

7 Lush groundwater/spring photo Wildlife photo Jobs Wildflowers/bee? Fishing Healthy Forests Provide Clean Water... and So Much More RESILIENT FORESTS: Protect water supplies. Reduce fire risk. Guard against drought, disease and insect infestations. Make communities safe. Create wildlife habitat. Protect carbon storage in trees. Provide recreational opportunities. Recharge groundwater. Improve surface water quality. Strengthen economies. Enhance our quality of life.

8 C.C. Cragin Reservoir, formerly known as Blue Ridge Reservoir, is a valuable resource for fishing, boating, camping and wildlife viewing. The reservoir, operated by SRP, also provides an important water supply to the town of Payson and other Mogollon Rim communities. By delivering a renewable surface water supply, more groundwater is stored, which protects underground aquifers and springs. Caring for the forests and watershed that support C.C. Cragin Reservoir is important for healthy ecosystems, communities and economies. Be Part of the Solution: Learn More About How to Get Involved

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