Watershed investments


National forest lands are the headwaters of some of our most coveted river systems and provide water for a range of uses (HCN, 2/20/12, "Trickle-down economics"). In the West, we rely on national forests to supply over half of our water. Climate change is increasing pressure on these water resources. The resulting threats -- insect outbreak, wildfire activity -- combined with a growing human population all highlight the need to invest in watershed health. Unfortunately, we cannot rely on congressional appropriations to accomplish the work that needs to be done. Thus, we must make the link between local communities and nearby forests.

I applaud the Forest Service for thinking critically and creatively about maintaining watershed health. The agency has had great foresight in developing innovative programs and resources for water resource management and bridging the gap to local communities. The Forest Service is moving in the right direction to sustain our precious water resources.

Sadly, we won't know the true value of water until it is gone, but the investments we make in our forested watersheds today will be all the more important in the future.

Wes Swaffar
Missoula, Montana

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