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Supporting responsible forest management to enhance and protect water resources

In many ways, water is the most precious forest resource. Forests provide wood and paper products, food and other non-timber forest products, recreation and wildlife benefits – and forests also protect and enhance our water resources. By filtering runoff and increasing infiltration to recharge ground water supplies, forests provide and protect drinking water resources for millions of people in the U.S. and billions more around the world.

Surface water - freshwater collected on the ground, in ponds, lakes, streams, rivers, wetlands - is directly impacted by land use decisions, including forest cover and forest management activities. Recent research has found that more than 52 million people in the Northeast and Midwest regions of the United States rely on surface water for municipal drinking water.*

Communities throughout the United States have identified mechanisms to retain and improve forest cover and support responsible forest management practices within their municipal watersheds as part of comprehensive programs to protect water supplies. Tools for citizen engagement, regulations and incentives, and innovative approaches to ‘growing forests for water’ are illustrated in this report. This report shares case studies of municipal water supplies from around the United States and their approaches to protecting surface waters through the use and enhancement of responsible forest management.

* http://www.na.fs.fed.us/watershed/fwp_preview.shtm

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