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The Southeastern Partnership for Forests and Drinking Water
Proceedings of the 2019 Mississippi Water Resources Conference
Year: 2019 Authors: Morgan R., Weismann K.
The USDA Forest Service (USFS) and the US Endowment for Forestry and Communities are collaborating with several Southeastern states on the Southeastern Partnership for Forests and Water (the Partnership). This initiative began in 2012 when South Carolina Rural Water Association conducted a high-level, collaborative, multi-state meeting in Greenville South Carolina among state drinking water and forestry agencies, associations and conservation groups. The gathering provided information about the importance of drinking water and forest lands, forestry and drinking water perspectives, and creative financing tools for drinking water protection (referred to as source water protection) in forested watersheds. The initiative recognizes that healthy forests benefit source water quality and quantity. Stewarding, enhancing and maintaining healthy forests in key Southeastern drinking water source watersheds is necessary due to increasing population growth and urbanization in the Southeast, which is resulting in forest fragmentation, forest losses, and a decline in forest health. The purpose of the initiative is to maintain healthy watersheds that provide safe, reliable drinking water, healthy forests, and strong local and regional economies. After the initial meeting in South Carolina the Partnership was formalized. Eight southern states including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Texas and Virginia are now actively involved Partnership. This presentation will discuss the goals, strategic plan and activities of the Partnership along with initial results from state efforts. Attendees at the presentation will acquire appreciation of the value of collaboration between the forestry and drinking water sectors, how the Partnership has operated, and what outcomes may be realized through collaborative projects.