If you could invest one dollar and get $7 back, you’d probably jump on it, right?
That’s why we at the Department of Conservation (DOC) are excited about the reactivation of a program that allows local entities to hire forest health watershed coordinators.
A “watershed” is an area where all the water running off the land drains into a specific body of water. Watersheds are everywhere, and they are all ultimately connected to the oceans. Activities that impact one watershed are likely to impact another one; problems like contaminated drinking water and soil erosion can affect many people, even people who are not near the original problem site.
Watershed protection involves monitoring water and runoff for contamination, ensuring adequate vegetation cover to prevent runoff, and monitoring fish, wildlife and plants for signs of stress. Watersheds are important because they provide us with water for drinking, cleaning, recreation, navigation, power, and manufacturing.
Watershed management is socially important because we are very dependent upon having a clean, well-functioning watershed where we live. Watershed managers make decisions that affect the environment and our health.
Benefits of a healthy forest are many; including reducing the possibility of catastrophic wildfires, clean air, clean water, and protecting wildlife habitat. Forested areas of California need someone to coordinate on the ground efforts and projects, which is where the Department of Conservation comes in.
DOC’s Watershed Coordinator Program was active from 2000 to 2015. The coordinators facilitated collaborative efforts to improve and sustain the health of California’s watersheds. An independent study indicated that for every dollar spent to hire watershed coordinators, seven dollars’ worth of benefits were produced.
Not a bad return on investment.
The Watershed Coordinator Program is back, with a new focus based on the state’s Forest Carbon Plan and Executive Order B-5-218. It’s critical for California to adapt to drought, fire, and other impacts of climate change. Protecting, restoring, and enhancing forest resources is a big part of preventing catastrophic fire and protecting water resources by preserving watershed capacity.
Forest health relies on local knowledge and management. It has been shown that local leadership – such as an on-the-ground coordinator – can help communities plan projects and leverage funds to achieve forest watershed health, especially in critical areas.
DOC’s Watershed Coordinator Program will fund local capacity and provide training and expertise. The funds are dedicated for local entities to hire on-the-ground staff to work with landowners and communities to identify areas where forest health restoration projects are the most beneficial.
About $1.9 million is available to fund approximately eight coordinator positions for a two-year term. Applications are due February 15, 2019. Check our website for information about how to apply and more details about the program.