NID Healthy Forests and Watershed Management
The Need for Forest Management
For over 100 years, wildﬁre suppression and reduced forest thinning have inadvertently increased the risk of severe wildﬁre in California by overcrowding forests with trees, shrubs, and debris that would normally burn in frequent, low-intensity ﬁres.
Sierra Nevada forests are now in a “stressed condition,” which is exacerbated by the impacts of climate change, such as drought and increased average temperature. Overcrowded forest communities are also more susceptible to diseases and pests, like the western pine beetle, which increases tree mortality and, subsequently, further increases the risk of wildﬁre. These forested watersheds provide 60% of California's water supply and are the source of water for Nevada Irrigation District.
NID Promotes Watershed Health to Improve Water Yield
Healthy watersheds provide water for human use and sustain aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. NID implements forest thinning projects to reduce ecosystem stressors and increase water yield by removing selected trees. Trees utilize groundwater and expel it as water vapor through a process called evapotranspiration, and thinning forests can recapture 5-10% of a watershed’s water yield. Additionally, selectively thinned forests are able to grow faster, allowing them to capture more atmospheric carbon, which helps to reduce greenhouse gases and climate change.
Planning for the Future
Historically, NID has utilized snowpack to reﬁll storage reservoirs in spring and summer. With the changing climate causing more precipitation to fall as rain instead of snow, it is increasingly important to manage our watersheds as the source of our water supply. To provide a sustainable supply of water for our growing communities, NID is responding to this challenge by expanding watershed management, encouraging water conservation, and safeguarding liquid storage reservoirs.