Time to Focus on Watershed Health

Time to Focus on Watershed Health

by Amy Lignor


With the blistering sun high in the sky for the summer months, it is extremely important for all across the United States to refocus some attention on the conservation of water supplies.


water conservation, watershed, good health, drought toolkit, contour planting, pest management, landscaping projectsThe term “watershed” is known by some (not by all); yet, the watershed is one of the most powerful tools that must be conserved and kept healthy in order to save land, secure water, and stop damaging wildfires from taking their toll.


Having a healthy watershed provides massive benefits to states across our country. Take New Mexico, for instance. In New Mexico, a healthy watershed provides that clean and abundant water necessary for a person’s good health, as well as better health for both land and crops. In addition, the watershed’s offer improved air quality and allow wildlife habitats and livestock forages to be in place and ready for the critters that need them.


New Mexico has seen both sides of the coin on this subject; this state has shown the horrors that can happen with declining watershed health in the past. Due to prolonged drought conditions, the state had to deal with many negatives, such as; insects, diseases, and the inability to prevent wildfires from sparking out of control. Large-scale, severe fires in upper headwaters – watersheds in higher elevations that collect snow – have negative effects that reach far beyond the actual burn area. Damage from these fires cause soil loss, downstream flooding, debris flows and degraded water quality. A scorched watershed’s soil can turn hydrophobic, meaning that rain can no longer be filtered through the ground’s natural processes.


So…how can this problem be tackled across the country? It is a fact that foresters conduct treatment projects throughout the year to try and stop an emergency from sprouting up. Landscape-sale initiatives are abundant in size and restore critical watersheds by thinning tree stands and clearing excess debris. This, in the end, protects the state, taking away the wildfire’s ability to move and spread, thus reducing any damage it can leave in its wake. It is a simple thought and fact that a fire cannot move rapidly or in an unpredictable path if there are less dense fuels for it to consume, so these initiatives can stall a fire and contain it to one area which protects both firefighters and healthy communities.


It is most definitely a give-and-take situation. After all, the areas we depend on to keep us breathing good air and drinking clean water are now depending on us to keep them alive. So, whether a citizen scientist or a firefighter or a group who wish to organize a clean-up event, put together a wildfire prevention planning team for their community, or be a part of raising money for initiatives to be done across the country, it is important to get involved and to realize that protecting watersheds is one or mankind’s most important responsibilities.


If wanting to do more, a drought toolkit can be requested from the Southwest Border Food Protection and Emergency Preparedness Center. This one kit offers up ways to monitor aquifers for water quality and volume, identify necessary resources depending on the size and scale of drought conditions you may be facing, as well as giving one the ability to plan and conserve water for their own community. And the information gathered with this toolkit is essential for all who wish to write and submit grant applications as well as come up with mitigation plans for their own backyards.


Everyone can help. If on the farm or ranch, make sure to practice contour planting and pest management while conserving and protecting the water quality. Plant along contours so that irrigation water soaks into the ground and doesn’t run off, build healthy soil with compost or other organic materials, and use fertilizers/pesticides sparingly.

If in the city, plant trees wisely to cool streets and buildings in the summer, yet still allow the winter sun to warm them. Protect your water by not dumping or tossing garbage into drains, as well as picking up after your pets. Design landscaping projects to gather run-off instead of sending it on down the drain, and encourage any local officials to install “green infrastructure” in order to conserve water supplies in the big city.


The world is a difficult place to protect in 2016. So remember to walk every path you can to make sure that this world grows healthier on a daily basis.

Source:  Baret News


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