A public-private partnership aimed at thinning out vegetation that could fuel wildfires that threaten water and hydroelectric facilities was announced Friday.
The Western Watershed Enhancement Partnership, which pairs agencies that look after water projects with one that oversees forests, was unveiled at Horsetooth Reservoir near Fort Collins, Colo., by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
"When a forest fire takes place, it can compromise the water supply," Vilsack said. "Sediment can build up, and the ash created by fires can cause huge problems downstream."
The partnership will aid agencies in the leveraging of resources to reduce the risk of water supplies being fouled, Vilsack said.
The U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation are launching the effort with a pilot project in northern Colorado.
The USDA, which oversees the Forest Service, and the Interior Department are formalizing partnerships around the Boise River reservoirs; Salt River project in Arizona; Mid-Pacific Region in California; Yakima Basin in Washington; and the Horsethief Reservoir and Flathead River in Montana.