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The SRP Healthy Forest Initiative™ and Arizona’s water

It’s hard to remember a summer without a catastrophic wildfire. After a century of fire suppression, many forests are now overgrown. In an unhealthy forest, it’s common to find smaller trees crowding larger trees. 

When wildfires hit these forests, the shorter trees cause the flames to rise higher instead of burning low to the ground, bringing the fire to the tops of the trees. When fire reaches the treetops, or crown, it’s called a crown fire. Crown fires burn hotter and faster with devastating effects.  

Fire and water

Wildfires affect not only the daily life and economies of our neighboring forest communities, but it also water quality. In Arizona, we depend on winter snow runoff to flow through our northeastern mountains, valleys, rivers and streams — known as a watershed — into our reservoirs. When fire scorches the earth, water runs across the soil faster. This brings more dirt, sediment and other debris into our reservoirs, causing water quality and supply issues for communities across the state. 

Helping Arizona’s forests

Ponderosa pines are common in Arizona forests within SRP’s watershed. 

SRP supports healthy forests in two ways: planting after a megafire and preventing wildfires through forest restoration. Through the La iniciativa de SRP Healthy Forest™, SRP has led the way in restoring land scarred by fire, making it easy for customers to directly help our forests now and in the future. When customers contribute to the SRP Healthy Forest Initiative, SRP provides matching funds up to $200,000 annually. 

On the forest restoration side, SRP is working closely with the U.S. Forest Service, the National Forest Foundation, the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, the Arizona Game and Fish Department, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the State of Arizona to re-establish a forest products industry that will progressively restore Arizona’s forests to more natural conditions. Hundreds of thousands of forested acres are overgrown, at high risk of experiencing catastrophic wildfire and in need of harvesting and restoration, according to the Four Forest Restoration Initiative (4FRI)

Through restoration, together we will be protecting people, communities and our watersheds. This project is anticipated to be the nation’s largest undertaking between several agencies to restore U.S. Forest Service lands and will be the first in the nation to utilize new longer-term contracting authority. 

Large commercial companies, including PepsiCo, Google and EdgeCore, are joining the cause by contributing funds to help restore the area near the Mogollon Rim that was destroyed by the Dude Fire in 1990. 

Other forest projects SRP is actively involved in include:  

  1. The Nature Conservancy and the Future Forests Fund
  2. The Four Forest Restoration Initiative Collaborative
  3. The Cragin Watershed Protection Project Partnership

SRP cares for forests

It’s no wonder SRP has been investing in forest health for the last decade. As the Valley’s largest supplier of raw water, SRP operates seven dams and reservoirs across the 8.3 million-acre Salt River and Verde River watersheds. These reservoirs play a major part in our lives, storing water for when the Valley needs it most while generating sustainable, renewable hydropower to thousands of homes.  

“We are so appreciative of our customers who see the value in forest health and want to be a part of the solution to help prevent devastating wildfires,” said Elvy Barton, SRP Manager of Water and Forest Sustainability.  

Don’t forget the recreational benefits we all can enjoy across Arizona’s forests and lakes. SRP water travels approximately 150 miles from the watershed to customers in the Valley. 

Help restore forest health

One hundred percent of monthly donations from our customers will go toward strategic forest thinning projects that help prevent wildfires and protect our water supply.

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