Coca-Cola Partners with the NFF to Restore America's Headwaters

You may have seen a recent Washington Post article about the formalized partnership between Coca-Cola, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the National Forest Foundation (NFF). Through this partnership, Coca-Cola is investing in the restoration of damaged watersheds on National Forest lands as part of their goal of becoming “water neutral” by 2020. In other words, Coca-Cola is offsetting the water it uses for its hundreds of products by supporting high-priority restoration activities that will “return” water to nature.

This year, Coca-Cola invested in four watershed restoration projects on the Angeles National Forest, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, Huron-Manistee National Forest and the Carson National Forest. This investments marks a significant expansion of the NFF’s Restoring America’s Headwaters program.

Coke 1
Coca-Cola employees get their hands dirty while planting native plants at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

An Ideal Partner
As the only Congressionally-chartered non-profit organization dedicated to the restoration and stewardship of our National Forests, the NFF plays an indispensable role in public-private partnerships by aiding in project selection, project implementation, and leveraging additional funding.

Our role is particularly important for the restoration projects on the Angeles National Forest and Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, both NFF Treasured Landscapes  sites where we were was able to leverage Coca-Cola’s contribution by 2:1, doubling the restoration impact. On the Carson and Huron-Manistee National Forests, the NFF was able to leverage Coca-Cola’s contribution 0.5:1, again increasing the amount of restoration work accomplished through this partnership.

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A stream at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie.

How It Works
To identify high-priority projects that will also yield a high “replenishment” benefit, the NFF, Forest Service, and Coca-Cola worked closely with an independent third party consulting company that specializes in hydrological modeling. By collecting local stream data and comparing different restoration scenarios, experts were able to provide an estimate of how much water would be returned to nature through a given restoration project.

Coca-Cola Supports Watershed Restoration

It’s easiest to understand through an example like Placer Creek on the Carson National Forest. Placer Creek has been severely impacted by historic mining practices, resulting in a degraded stream channel running through a high mountain meadow. This situation causes extensive erosion and sedimentation, or more simply, far more dirt washes into the creek after rain or snow storms than would if the creek were restored. That dirt then negatively impacts fish and other aquatic organisms.

Additionally, because historic mining straightened and deepened the creek, water that would normally seep into the ground by overtopping the stream’s banks or by slowing down in the stream’s meanders, instead rushes to the ocean. As a result of this restoration project, Placer Creek will now naturally flood across the meadow during high flows, allowing that water to return back to nature.

To estimate the replenishment benefit of restoring Placer Creek, experts collected stream data to calculate how much water would be returned to nature by allowing the stream to naturally meander through the meadow. Essentially, they calculated how much water would go back into the ground if the creek were once again a meandering stream.

Once the analysis was completed, we found that this project will restore an estimated 49 million liters/year, allowing Placer Creek to be transformed from an eroded stream channel to a vibrant high mountain meadow. Because the creek will meander through the meadow, water will be allowed to seep back into the ground. The surrounding meadow plants will be more healthy and better able to provide food and habitat for animals and insects, improving the entire area around the creek in addition to helping Coca-Cola meet its goals.

All told, the total replenishment benefit for projects sponsored by Coca-Cola this year comes to approximately 328.4 million liters. And, because these projects result in long-lasting restoration, this water will return each year after the work is completed.

The NFF is excited to continue its partnership with Coca-Cola in 2014 by expanding our work together in restoring key National Forest watersheds across the country.

Support more water restoration projects today.




Comments on Coca-Cola Partners with the NFF to Restore America's Headwaters

December 2 2013 9:09 PM | RJ Mullen said…

What is missing in this marketing piece is how many liters (or gallons) of water Coca Cola removes from the watersheds of the U. S. It is an important piece of this story.

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