Healthy Headwaters

Headwaters forests provide over 60% of the American West’s water supply and they are in grave danger.

Catastrophic wildfires, a changing climate and past management decisions have hurt the forests’ ability to provide clean water to millions of people.

Today leaders around the region are pioneering innovative ways to build resilience back into our forests through watershed restoration and source water protection. More resilient forests give us a more resilient water supply.

Carpe Diem West leads the Healthy Headwaters Alliance, a coalition of water utility managers, conservationists, public agency staff, scientists, community advocates and businesses.

Together, we guide and connect successful efforts around the region to multiply their impact and tell the stories of successful source water protection efforts and spreading these innovative approaches.

Join the Healthy Headwaters Alliance

Leadership Team

Mike Anderson

Senior Resources Analyst - The Wilderness Society

Sarah Bates

Deputy Regional Director and Senior Director, Western Water - National Wildlife Federation

Laura Briefer

Director - Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities

Christopher Carlson

Assistant Director for Water and Aquatic Resources, USDA Forest Service

Kim Carr

Director, California Programs - National Forest Foundation

David Edelson

Sierra Nevada Project Director - The Nature Conservancy

Charlie Ester

Manager of Water Resource Operations - Salt River Project

Todd Gartner

Senior Associate, Natural Infrastructure & Water, World Resources Institute

Sterling Grogan

Senior Advisor & Ecologist - Carpe Diem West

Rob Harper

National Director for Watershed, Fish, Wildlife, Air, Rare Plants, and Subsistence in Alaska - US Forest Service

Holly Hartmann

Climate Scientist

Cathy Kellon

Green Infrastructure Program Director - The Geos Institute

Karen Knudsen

Executive Director, Clark Fork Coalition

Dale Lyons

Senior Planning Consultant - Souder, Miller and Associates

Mike McHugh

Environmental Permitting Coordinator - Aurora Water

Mary Mitsos

President - National Forest Foundation

Karl Morgenstern

Environmental Supervisor, Watershed Protection and Property Management - Eugene Water & Electric Board

Marian Rice

Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities

Ann Schwend

Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation 

Jennifer Sokolove

Director of Programs and Strategy - The Water Foundation

John Shepard

Senior Director of Programs - Sonoran Institute

Steve Whitney

Senior Program Officer - The Bullitt Foundation

Rebecca Wolfe

Public Lands Team - Sierra Club

Anne Zimmermann

US Forest Service, Ret.


We are developing a new understanding of where water comes from - not from the streams, but from the forest.

- Ron Lehr, President Denver Water Board (1993-1999)


Bibliography - The Economic Value of Water & Watersheds on National Forest Lands in the US

Prepared for Carpe Diem West's September 2010 Healthy Headwaters meeting. Alison Berry/Sonoran Institute


Healthy Headwaters Second Leadership Convening Summary Salt Lake City, UT

Building on it’s March 2010 meeting in Seattle, Carpe Diem West’s Healthy Headwaters Project working group met September 16, 2010 in Salt Lake City. The group focused its discussion on specific policy, management, and scientific issues that western water managers and advocates are facing in their work to make watersheds more resilient to climate change.


Healthy Headwaters First Leadership Convening Summary Seattle, WA

Carpe Diem's Western Water & Climate Change Project hosted the first Healthy Headwaters leadership working group meeting on March 19, 2010 at the Wilburforce Foundation in Seattle to explore and discuss opportunities for a new level of national forest and watershed protection in the era of climate change.


Western Water & Climate Change Communications Guidelines

A comprehensive framing analysis of existing media coverage and public opinion data on the issues of climate change and water in the West. September, 2009


Climate Change, Water, and National Forests in the West

This policy brief outlines key issues and opportunities arising from the impacts of climate change on the western National Forests—and on the millions of users who depend on water that comes from those headwaters. July 2009  


Federal Policy In Western Water and Climate Change - Las Vegas

Convening summary from Carpe Diem West's meeting held in Las Vegas March, 2009, examines possible changes to the federal government’s role in adaptation strategies addressing climate change impacts on the West’s water supply, water dependent industries, agriculture, and river ecosystems.


Federal Policy in Western Water & Climate Change

This white paper provides a brief summary of the evolving federal role in western water management, suggests the driving forces for change, and sets out questions to frame the discussion from the March 2009 convening.


Rethinking Storage in the Era of Climate Change

Convening summary - November 2008, Denver, CO Examining the evolving role of water storage - new, proposed and re-operation of existing projects - in the face of climate change impacts. Exploring the opportunities to find common ground among stakeholders.