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Forward West: The Forested Watersheds At-risk Decision Support Tool for the Western Us

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Millions of acres of western forests are at risk from the consequences of catastrophic wildfire. These risks extend beyond the initial damage of wildfire to structures and include the potential harm to water resources due to fire-induced erosion. In many cases, water bodies at risk from such acute erosion events are already stressed due to pollutant loads not associated with wildfire and are listed as impaired under Section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act. In the FORWARD West Decision Support Tool, impaired waters and forested areas vulnerable to additional stressors such as wildfire and erosion are identified along with information on landscape values such as drinking water supplies and critical habitat. By making this information available in a novel query format to federal land managers, states, and the affected communities, decision makers can plan more effective restoration strategies that not only address the current causes of impairments but provide a measure of insurance against pending threats as well.
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Keywords: DRINKING WATER; EROSION; GIS; IMPAIRED WATERS; WATER RESOURCES; WILDFIRE

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-10-01

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