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 Resource Analyst - The Wilderness Society

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Sarah Bates

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

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Laura Briefer

Director - Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities

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Christopher Carlson

Assistant Director for Water and Aquatic Resources, USDA Forest Service

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Kim Carr

Principal, KCarr Consulting

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David Edelson

Sierra Nevada Project Director - The Nature Conservancy

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Charlie Ester

Manager of Water Resource Operations - Salt River Project

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Todd Gartner

Senior Associate, Natural Infrastructure & Water, World Resources Institute

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Sterling Grogan

Senior Advisor & Ecologist - Carpe Diem West

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Rob Harper

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

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Holly Hartmann

Climate Scientist

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Cathy Kellon

Green Infrastructure Program Director - The Geos Institute

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Karen Knudsen

Executive Director, Clark Fork Coalition

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Dale Lyons

Senior Planning Consultant - Souder, Miller and Associates

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Mike McHugh

Environmental Permitting Coordinator - Aurora Water

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Mary Mitsos

President - National Forest Foundation

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Karl Morgenstern

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

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Marian Rice

Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities

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Ann Schwend

Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation 

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Jennifer Sokolove

Director of Programs and Strategy - The Water Foundation

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John Shepard

Senior Director of Programs - Sonoran Institute

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Steve Whitney

Senior Program Officer - The Bullitt Foundation

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Rebecca Wolfe

Public Lands Team - Sierra Club

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Anne Zimmermann

US Forest Service, Ret.

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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)

Reports

It’s a lot of money. The alternatives are a lot more expensive.

Western forests, whether in headwaters or the region’s fruitful floodplains, are the key to water security, flood protection, and water quality. But catastrophic wildfires, a rapidly changing climate, overdevelopment and poor past management decisions means that these lands are increasingly limited in their ability to provide clean water to millions of people. Today, leaders around the American West are pioneering innovative ways to restore forests — the source of over 60% of our water. Healthier forests results in healthier water downstream. But we must invest in restoration and protection to fulfill this promise. We’ve taken a snapshot of four places around the West that have big plans. The price tag is hefty, but are economically responsible investments for long-term water security. As communities around the West take on similar investments, these regions are helping to lead the way.

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Overview of Local Funding for Improving Forest Health in the West

As local concern over forest health and resilience increases with every severe wildfire summer in the West, interest grows in how local governments can engage to protect their backyard. Carpe Diem West’s partner the Trust for Public Land, just issued Overview of Local Funding for Improving Forest Health in the West. The report identifies and describes available federal grant programs and provides examples of local community expenditures to improve the health of nearby federal forests. March 25, 2019 Photo credit: Jerry and Marcy Monkman

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Report Released - Breaking Down Barriers: Priority Actions for Advancing Water Quality Trading

In the recently released new report "Breaking Down Barriers: Priority Actions for Advancing Water Quality Trading.”  The report is a product of the National Network on Water Quality Trading (“National Network”), a network of diverse organizations working to advance water quality trading in the United States. This report investigates what’s keeping water quality trading on the sidelines and proposes a detailed action agenda to help get water quality trading on the ground in more watersheds across the United States. Along with this report,  The Willamette Partnership and the Association of Clean Water Administrators(ACWA) are proud to announce the release of five water quality trading policy templates. The templates make it faster and easier to develop transparent and accountable water quality trading programs that drive meaningful investment toward achieving clean water goals. The templates go along with the National Network on Water Quality Trading publication, Building a Water Quality Trading Program: Options and Considerations, to provide a blueprint for those states and organizations seeking to create a water quality trading program. October 16, 2018

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Healthy Headwaters 13th Leadership Convening Summary- Portland, OR

Carpe Diem West convened its 13th convening in Portland where the Healthy Headwaters Leadership Team and invited guests came together to discuss increasing our understanding of how the climate is warming – much more quickly than we thought even a few short years ago. Accelerating our ability to communicate “VUCA” to community leaders & decision makers and what it means for the region. Assessing utility responses to homeless people and watershed protection. Understanding the role of beavers in watershed/forest health. Networking – engaging all water users – assess opportunities and challenges. And identifying new issues to track. Read the meeting summary below. March 2018

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Willamette Future Project

This project identifies opportunities to align and leverage and bring to scale existing work on the Willamette River in Oregon.

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Climate Chaos and Local Resilience: Water solutions in the American West

Carpe Diem West celebrates 10 years by releasing this beautiful interactive report. Click Download -  then click on the photo to see the report in full!  

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Fighting Fire with Finance: A Roadmap for Collective Action

The US Forest Service, tasked with managing 193 million acres of public forests and grasslands across the U.S., has described the land it manages as “overgrown and unhealthy” and calls for action to “return forests to the way they were historically”. Unfortunately, the Forest Service lacks the resources to implement treatments despite the financial, social, and environmental benefits that restoration fosters. Fortunately, there is a proven solution to accomplish this ambitious goal.  Blue Forest Conservation introduces the Forest Resilience Bond in a recently released report "Fighting Fire with Finance- A Roadmap For Collective Action". We hope you come away from this report with an understanding of the issues facing our forests and how the Forest Resilience Bond can help. But even more, we hope you challenge yourself to question the status quo and start a dialogue with others. By working together, this roadmap can be a tool for practitioners to apply this innovative financing to countless other interventions across the globe, essentially redefining how society addresses environmental challenges. October, 2017 Photo Credit:  Mike McMillan

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Albuquerque releases it's New 100 Year Water Resources Management Strategy

This 100-year water plan explores a number of supply alternatives while considering various scenarios of climate change and population growth. July 2017  

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