How do Wildfires — And Efforts to Abate Them — Affect the Nation’s Water Supplies?

 

WallowFire_ApacheSitgreaves.jpgMore than 180 million people across the United States rely on forest watersheds to store, filter, and deliver the water that flows from their taps. Unfortunately, in many parts of the country, these watershed functions face an increasing risk of severe wildfire. Prescribed burning is one treatment that can reduce forest fuels and wildfire’s threats to municipal areas, but how does fire—planned or not—impact water quantity across the landscape? Can forest thinning, which causes forests to take up less water, reduce fire risk and also increase water supplies? Eastern Threat Center researchers and collaborators are beginning a first-of-its-kind study to explore these questions. Findings could have important implications for local forest management decisions that ultimately affect water quantity as well as quality. Read more in CompassLive...

Pictured: A watershed is transformed following the 2011 Wallow Fire in Arizona. Photo courtesy of Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest.

 

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