Tuesday June 18, 2024

AZ Central

Forest thinning increases water supplies downstream while reducing wildfire risk, according to a study conducted by Salt River Project and Arizona State University. 

Land managers and scientists knew forest thinning — a technique that clears smaller trees and vegetation to reduce fuel loads in forests — decreases wildfire hazard, but wanted to quantify how restoration projects also benefit watersheds. 

SRP and ASU created a virtual model of a 3,400-acre area of the Kaibab National Forest in northern Arizona and simulated forest thinning. They concluded that such work in the forest would generate 230 acre-feet, or 75 million gallons of water during the first year. 

“You’re essentially creating a healthier watershed, which we all knew about, but now we can actually put numbers to it, and that’s the exciting part about it,” said Elvy Barton, water and forest sustainability manager for SRP.

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