LAO Report: Improving California’s Forest and Watershed Management
From the Legislative Analyst’s Office:
Roughly one-third of California is forested, including the majority of the watersheds that serve as the key originating water source for millions of people across the state. These forests also provide critical air, wildlife, climate, and recreational benefits. However, a combination of factors have resulted in poor conditions across these forests and watersheds, including excessive vegetation density and an overabundance of small trees and brush. Such conditions have contributed to more prevalent and severe wildfires and unprecedented tree mortality in recent years, and experts are concerned these trends will continue if steps are not taken to significantly improve the health of the state’s forests.
This report provides background information on California’s forests, including how they are managed, their current conditions, and the concerning implications and recent consequences of those conditions. We also highlight shortcomings in the state’s management approach and recommend actions the Legislature could take to improve the health of forests and watersheds across the state.
We recommend steps to (1) improve and increase funding for and coordination of forest health activities, (2) revise certain state policies and practices to facilitate forest health projects, (3) improve landowner assistance programs to increase effectiveness, and (4) expand options for utilizing and disposing of woody biomass. In particular, we recommend the Legislature recognize the statewide benefits that healthy forests can provide by maintaining at least the current level of state funding—$280 million annually—for projects to improve forest health. We also recommend the state take action to encourage “downstream beneficiaries”—such as the State Water Project and local water and hydropower agencies—to spend local funds to help maintain and improve the health of the forested watersheds upon which they rely for their water supplies. Finally, our recommendations envision a greater role for the California Natural Resources Agency in coordinating, overseeing, and reporting to the Legislature regarding the state’s forest health activities.
Weekly Water and Climate Update: Unusual April snow in the Midwest and Northeast
From the USDA:
The Natural Resources Conservation Service produces this weekly report using data and products from the National Water and Climate Center and other agencies. The report focuses on seasonal snowpack, precipitation, temperature, and drought conditions in the U.S.
Unusual April snow fell in the Midwest and Northeast earlier this week. 5.5 inches of snow fell in New York City; elsewhere in the Northeast snow totals were over 7 inches. In many areas this was the biggest spring storm in decades. A late-season polar vortex with unseasonably cool temperatures and possible additional snow is forecast to continue in the Midwest, parts of the Mid-Atlantic, and the Northeast.
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About News Worth Noting: News Worth Noting is a collection of press releases, media statements, and other materials produced by federal, state, and local government agencies, water agencies, and academic institutions, as well as non-profit and advocacy organizations. News Worth Noting also includes relevant legislator statements and environmental policy and legal analyses that are publicly released by law firms. If your agency or organization has an item you would like included here, please email it to Maven.