Geoscience Policy Monthly Review
july 2013

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federal agencies & administration

DOI and USDA announce partnership to protect watersheds from wildfire impacts

The Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Bureau of Reclamation and the Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Forest Service announced a partnership to restore forestlands around important watersheds and prevent damaging wildfires.

The Western Watershed Enhancement Partnership is included in the President’s Climate Action Plan. Climate change is expected to result in more frequent and destructive wildfires, which in turn damage watersheds via increased transport of sediment, ash, and debris into streams from fire-damaged lands. More than 60 million people rely on the National Forest System as a drinking water source, and this partnership will work to restore forest and watershed health and to proactively plan for post-wildfire responses to protect water supplies.

Work under this partnership will start in the Upper Colorado Headwaters and Big Thompson watershed in Northern Colorado. Partnering agencies will include the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District and the Colorado State Forest Service. Planned activities include wildfire risk reduction through forest thinning and prescribed burns; minimizing post-wildfire erosion and sedimentation; and restoring areas impacted by past wildfires through tree planting and other habitat improvements. 

McCarthy nomination clears Senate

After months of indignation and stand-offs between Senate Democrats and Republicans, Gina McCarthy has been confirmed as the new Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a 59 to 40 vote this July. Senate Republicans boycotted McCarthy’s Environment and Public Works confirmation hearing back in May over transparency concerns aimed at the EPA. Gina McCarthy succeeds Lisa Jackson as head of the EPA.