Forests to Faucets
Forests on the Front Range of Colorado have grown denser as a result of a century of fire suppression. Dense forests are subject to large, severe wildfires, conditions which increase soil erosion and can degrade water quality for years. To prevent future catastrophic fires from affecting the Denver metro area water supply, this project focuses on forest thinning treatments on thousands of acres of public and private land. It uses Geographic Information Systems to map and model the continental United States land areas most important to surface drinking water, the role forests play in protecting these areas, and the extent to which these forests are threatened by development, insects and disease, and wildland fire.
In 2016 the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute joined the Forests to Faucets program to quantify the outcomes of fuel reduction and forest management actions. Read the most recent project update in the links below.
The results of this assessment provide information that can identify areas of interest for protecting surface drinking water quality. The spatial dataset can be incorporated into broad-scale planning, such as the State Forest Action Plans, and can help identify areas for further local analysis. In addition, it can be incorporated into existing decision support tools that currently lack spatial data on important areas for surface drinking water.
This project also sets the groundwork for identifying watersheds where a payment for watershed services (PWS) project may be an option for financing conservation and management on forest lands. On a macro-scale, these Forests to Faucets data identify areas that supply surface drinking water, consumer demand for this water, and significant development threats—all important criteria for successful PWS initiatives.
In perhaps its most important role, this work can serve as an education tool to illustrate the link between forests and the provision of surface drinking water—a key watershed-based ecosystem service.