National Forest Foundation

Our Forests, Our Water

Our National Forests and Grasslands provide our country with 193 million spectacular acres of wildlands. With…

  • More than 9,000 miles of scenic byways to drive
  • Almost 150,000 miles of trails to hike
  • More than 4,400 miles of wild and scenic rivers to float
  • At least 5,100 campgrounds in which to pitch our tents
  • And 328 natural pools to swim in

…our National Forests and Grasslands provide some of the best recreational opportunities to our great nation. Timber, oil, gas and minerals, grazing lands, and other natural resources add to the recreational values these public lands provide.

But water is perhaps the single most important resource our National Forests and Grasslands provide.

In 1897, when Congress created the U.S. Forest Service to manage the growing network of forest reserves, it specifically noted water’s importance. The agency’s “Organic Act” included the “securing favorable conditions of water flows” as a foundation of its mission.

Today, that mission is more relevant than it’s ever been. More than 3,000 communities, serving millions of Americans, get their drinking water from watersheds contained within National Forests and Grasslands. From major cities like Atlanta, Denver, Seattle, Los Angeles to small towns that border forest boundaries, the role our National Forests play in providing water is paramount to community health and prosperity.

That’s why so much of our work focuses on restoring the National Forest watersheds that provide this life-giving resource.

From our watershed-focused Treasured Landscapes campaign sites like the Pike National Forest in Colorado, the Deschutes National Forest in Oregon and the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forests in Utah to our multi-year partnership with Coca-Cola that is putting water back in rivers, streams and wetlands, we’ve realized significant and meaningful watershed benefits to forests and communities through our initiatives.

Since 2001, we have catalyzed more than $13 million in watershed stewardship and restoration through more than 450 individual investments. These investments include both direct on-the-ground restoration work, and investments that increase the capacity of those doing conservation work. We have leveraged our $13 million investment (private and federal funds) into conservation impacts exceeding $58 million. Selected cumulative watershed accomplishments include:

  • 1,592 Miles of stream surveyed
  • 330 Road crossings or culverts repaired or installed
  • 2,084 Acres of wetland or riparian area restored
  • 311 Miles of stream restored
  • 195 Miles of road restored/decommissioned

Download a description of our watershed restoration program.


Please contact Wes Swaffar, the NFF’s Senior Manager, Ecosystem Services Program, to learn more about our watershed restoration initiatives.