SRP using aggressive tactics to avoid severe wildfires
March 15, 2021
Salt River Project is pushing for more aggressive forest management in response to damaging wildfires that have impacted the SRP watershed. We learned more from SRP Senior Policy Analyst, Elvy Barton.
Barton described the issue.
“Our forests are overgrown and densely stocked with these small trees that create fuel for large high severity wildfires, and these high severity wildfires can create very dangerous conditions on the watershed and also for our surrounding community.”
She continued to explain that the recent wildfires are unusually growing in size as well as severity on the landscape. The watershed and community effects are scary as well. Barton explained why.
“SRP water supplies are delivered to 2 million valley residents and originate 8.3 million acres of land in northern and eastern Arizona, and these watersheds that provide this critical water supply are the ones that are in need of desperate restoration. SRP manages and operates seven reservoirs… and when you have these high severity wildfires that impact large areas and then you have precipitation events that follow, like rain and snow, they create dangerous post-wildfire flooding events. Which allows for soil and debris to be deposited in these rivers and then also the reservoirs. When you have this type of impact it not only damages the water infrastructure but it also reduces the long term water storage capacity.”
As far as aggressive tactics go to reduce these kinds of events, SRP is a believer. In Barton’s words they, “are working with the US Forest Service, the Us Bureau of reclamation and the state of Arizona to develop the largest 20 year requested proposal to remove those small trees that create fuel for wildfires. We are currently working with these partners and the forest service is currently evaluating the proposal with the anticipated reward later this summer, and this will be an amazing opportunity.”