Partnership Seeks to Protect Watersheds from Fire Risks

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The Obama administration launched an initiative Friday aimed at reducing the risk of wildfire to water supplies in the West. As KUNC's Grace Hood reports, Colorado will be one of six states to see pilot projects.

Flows of ash and debris into streams after a wildfire can be damaging to the local water supply. Aiming to mitigate this problem, the US Departments of Agriculture and Interior signed a memorandum of understanding Friday. USDA Chief Tom Vilsack:

“It will improve water quality it will protect habitat and we believe over time it will reduce fire risk.”Vilsack—along with Department of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell—announced the agreement in front of Horsetooth Reservoir in Fort Collins. The area is seeing diminished water quality following the 2012 High Park Fire.

The Memorandum of Understanding will help facilitate forest health treatments and address erosion after wildfires, among other things.  According to a press release from Senator Michael Bennet’s office, the USDA and the Department of the Interior will work with local water users to identify risks to the water supply. The first project will be in northern Colorado and will partner with the state forest service and the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District.