Statement of Purpose
The members of the Colorado Forest & Water Alliance join together for mutual assistance in advocating at state and federal levels about policies, funding, and programs that support meaningful and measurable improvements in forest health and watershed resiliency benefitting Colorado.
- The Colorado Forest & Water Alliance recognizes all Coloradans benefit from healthy forests and protected water resources.
- Unhealthy forests represent a substantial environmental, economic, and social risk to urban and rural communities and to the 18 other states that rely on water from Colorado’s headwaters.
- We recognize the need for leadership and coordination on a science-based, proactive, and collaborative approach to active forest management across all land ownership boundaries in the state.
- The Colorado Forest & Water Alliance will identify and advocate for policies that we unanimously agree will benefit various interconnected forest/watershed health and water resources protection needs.
Science tells us that healthy, resilient forests are critical to long term climate solutions and water security. To that end, we advocate and support policies, legislation, new land designations, and other mechanisms affecting forested lands that are consistent with the following principles:
- Restore forested headwaters as a pathway to water security and climate solutions.
- Nature connects forests and water, additionally forests influence the carbon cycle and therefore climate. Policy should connect forests, climate and water – not treat them as separate and divisible.
- Avoid carbon emissions from catastrophic wildfires that threaten lives, public health, property, and forest ecosystems.
- Forest projects need to occur at landscape scales:
- Endorse and support forest health treatments at larger (landscape) scales.
- Restricting forest treatments to areas adjacent of development (Wildland-Urban Interface) does not efficaciously address the threat of catastrophic wildfire.
- Steward the snowpack and protect water resources.
- Select critical water supply watersheds as priority areas for forest treatments. Many of the West’s headwaters are on the national forests and improving the health of those forests is critical to ensure secure, sustainable supplies of clean water.
- Keep forests as forests.
- Manage existing forests to sequester and store carbon through increased forest growth, improved forest health, and reforestation. Aggressively reforest burned areas so trees can play their role capturing carbon and converting to oxygen.
- Promote the use of wood products to sequester and store carbon.
- Durable, long-lasting wood products sequester carbon indefinitely.
- Support sustaining markets and infrastructure to utilize wood products.
- Prioritize Science over emotion.
- Sound science is foundational to addressing climate induced threats to watersheds and forests. One critical source of unbiased, relevant science comes from local federal and state land managers who are working for the public interest – we should listen to them.
- Light on the land.
- Design forest restoration projects that minimize negative environmental effects and increase environmental benefits.
- Utilize existing roads wherever feasible to support forest restoration and management. New road construction is expensive – both economically and environmentally.
- Incentivize cross boundary solutions.
- Threats to watershed and forest health crosses property boundaries. Fire, disease, and tree attacking insects, must be fought collaboratively across private and public lands at larger scales to be effective.
- Reflect the true cost.
- Weigh short term projects’ costs and environmental effects against long-term benefits of healthy, resilient forests that protect water and mitigate climate change. Downstream benefits for agriculture, wildlife and fish, municipal water, and a myriad of recreation opportunities must also be analyzed, considered and valued.
- Must include both watershed and forest health
- Both an urban and rural application
- Have a clearly defined beneficial outcome
- Not duplicative of other work already being done
- Unanimous consent