- New program allows residential customers to invest US$3 a month toward strategic forest-thinning projects.
- Strategic thinning effort to create healthier ecosystem more resilient to effects of climate change.
- Initiative part of SRP's 2035 Sustainability Goals to protect health of watersheds through forest restoration treatments.
Salt River Project (SRP) has created a new program that allows residential customers to invest US$3 a month toward strategic forest-thinning projects to help reduce the risk and devastating impacts of catastrophic wildfires and protect the health of the watersheds that provide water to the valley.
The community-funded SRP Healthy Forest Initiative is part of SRP's 2035 Sustainability Goals to protect the health of the watersheds through forest restoration treatments. This work is done through partnerships, influence, education, and support for industry to thin 50,000 acres per year or 500,000 acres of unhealthy overgrown forested lands by 2035.
The majority of the valley's water supply originates as rain and snow from 8.3 million acres of watershed lands spread across northern and eastern Arizona. Snowfall and rain that falls on these forested lands is captured in SRP reservoirs and delivered to cities throughout the valley for use by residences and businesses. By contributing to the SRP Healthy Forest Fund, SRP customers will be further ensuring a clean and reliable water supply is available for their everyday use.
On average, the forested lands in the northern part of the state have about 100 trees per acre, but in many areas, there are thousands of trees per acre. Overcrowded forests can fuel large, uncontrollable wildfires with catastrophic impacts. Since 2000, 2.9 million acres have burned in and around the Salt and Verde River and Cragin watersheds.
"Arizona forests are not only essential to the valley's water supply but they also provide a beautiful setting for recreational activities for thousands of people every year," said Elvy Barton, SRP forest management principal. "Our customers and community want to help prevent devastating wildfires and be a part of the solution together with SRP."
In addition to preventing and slowing catastrophic wildfires, this strategic thinning effort:
- Removes small, unhealthy trees, and leaves large, mature trees
- Helps store more carbon in healthy trees and in wood products made from small trees
- Creates a healthier ecosystem more resilient to the effects of climate change
- Protects and enhances wildlife habitats
- Brings jobs to the area
In other parts of the watershed, where fires have devastated the area, SRP and SRP customers have helped plant more than two million trees with the assistance of the Forest Service to ensure proper planting for a future healthy forest. While tree planting has been important, restoration and investment in the SRP Healthy Forest Initiative helps reduce wildfires and the need to replant the forest.
Residential customers can now sign up for the Healthy Forest Initiative here. SRP will match the donations up to US$200,000 every year.