Trees and forests are critical to the health and proper function of watersheds. Studies clearly show that the amount of forest in a watershed, especially those forests bordering streams and shorelines, is an important determinant of water quality and the health of aquatic ecosystems.
Clean water is one of our most important and valuable forest products. In urban areas, trees and forests reduce storm water runoff, cool the air, and provide critical refuge for fish and wildlife. Forests also help clean the air we breathe. In rural areas, forests protect municipal water supplies, reduce flooding, replenish groundwater aquifers, provide recreation and critical fish and wildlife habitat, and yield numerous wood products. By filtering pollutants from air and water, storing water and nutrients, protecting soils, flood plains, and streams, and providing aesthetic and other human needs, forests bring significant benefits to our lands, waters, and communities. People depend on healthy and well-managed forest lands. Over 50 million people depend on northeastern forests, in part, to protect their water supplies. Forests provide a wide range of goods and services we use every day while also making up important "green infrastructure" in our communities, enhancing our health and our quality of life. Forests matter because:
- Forests are the best land use for sustaining water quality
- Forests maintain the stability of streams and watersheds
- Forests provide critical habitats for fish and other wildlife
- Forests clean the air
- Forests protect our drinking water supplies
- Forested watersheds are important to people
The USDA Forest Service Northeastern Area (NA), in cooperation with State Foresters, addresses watershed health and restoration through targeting its cooperative forestry programs. NA coordinates demonstration projects, provides technical and financial assistance to States and communities, provides education and training, manages threats to forest health, and works in partnership at the local level to protect and enhance watersheds on State and private forest lands.
The Northeastern Area is working to address emerging and persistent water quality and watershed issues through regional, state, and local collaborative efforts and partnerships. Our special niche is demonstrating and communicating how the conservation, restoration and proper stewardship of forests maintains and improves water quality and watershed health in both rural and urban areas. Watersheds also provide a context for targeting our programs and working with stakeholders. To accomplish this, the Watershed Program:
- Provides ongoing technical support to NA, NAASF, and the NA State Foresters,
- Coordinates large-scale watershed partnerships and initiatives,
- Provides support and oversight of targeted Watershed and Clean Water Action Grants, and
- Advance watershed science and implement regional projects which further NA goals.
If you would like to learn about NA Strategic goals for watersheds, click here
If you would like to learn about the NA Strategic Plan, click here
Landscape Scale Conservation in the Northeast and Midwest
Ensuring Healthy Ecosystems Across All Ownerships and the Rural to Urban Continuum