What We Do

Protect Clean Water

We need healthy forests to protect our nation’s water supply.

Healthy forests = clean water

Forests act as a natural water filtration and storage system—regulating stream flow and reducing flooding. They also help keep water clear by capturing contaminants before they reach rivers and streams, holding soil in place, and minimizing erosion and sediment runoff.

Water & wildfires

In certain areas of the country, particularly in the West, droughts and overgrown forests are causing catastrophic wildfires that hinder forests’ ability to keep water clean.

This happens because wildfires essentially “bake” the ground, destroying the natural filtration system of the soil and creating a hard-packed layer (much like a parking lot). This can lead to severe erosion, debris flows and water quality degradation.

Not just a public lands issue

We must protect our water supply from growing threats like catastrophic wildfires, but contrary to popular thinking, protecting our watersheds is not just a public lands issue

In fact, more than 25% of U.S. freshwater flows through and is filtered by private and family-owned forests. Further, more than one-third of the forests in critical drinking water watersheds that are at high risk for wildfires are privately owned. 

That’s why a key priority of the American Tree Farm System,® our nationwide network of family forest owners, is the implementation of sustainable forest management practices that ensure clean water.

The American Forest Foundation is also proud to support and participate in innovative partnerships like the Kootenai Forest to Rivers Initiative (Montana), Chaffee Treats (Colorado) and My Blue Mountains Woodland (Oregon)— which aim to protect our water supply through proper forest management and wildfire risk reduction. 

Related Articles

April 10, 2019

Supporting Landowners in Reducing Wildfire Risk - Meet AFF's California Conservation Manager

Spring has arrived and with it the anticipation of another wildfire season. Now, more than ever, there is a need to reduce the risk of wildfire. The American Forest Foundation (AFF) is focusing on just that – expanding its capacity to help private forest owners in California overcome barriers and do their part to protect their forests and the benefits – in particular, the clean water – they provide. To lead this project, AFF recently hired a seasoned forester and expert in landscape scale restoration, Chantz Joyce

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May 7, 2018

Spreading the Cost Before the Fires Spread Further: Innovative Solution to Wildfire Mitigation

Recent predictions for the 2018 wildfire season likely have many across the West worried, especially thanks to drought conditions that have persisted through the winter in several states. Just last year over 10 million acres burned, making it one of the country’s worst wildfire seasons in recorded history. It’s no wonder people are worried.

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October 19, 2015

Report: Western Water Threatened by Wildfire

As wildfire seasons continue to worsen, clean water sources are being put at risk. Addressing this issue requires working across both public and private lands and empowering landowners with the tools and resources they need to take action.

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