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

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

Principal, KCarr Consulting

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)


Healthy Headwaters Alliance - 2016 Policy Platform Update

The updated Policy Platform identifies three frameworks for new policies that could be enacted in a fairly short period of time.  February 2016


Healthy Headwaters Alliance Policy Platform Criteria

The updated Healthy Headwaters Policy Platform companion piece on criteria we will use to assess proposed legislation or policies. While the Healthy Headwaters Alliance does not advocate for specific legislation, as opportunities arise we do use our criteria to provide thoughtful commentary to interested parties.  November 2015


Healthy Headwaters Tenth Leadership Convening Summary - Eugene, Oregon

At its tenth convening the Healthy Headwaters Leadership Team and invited Western Water Leaders discussed next steps for restoring and protecting headwaters and water supply in the American West. The meeting summary covers some of the key points. October 2015


Watershed Investment Programs - Updates From the Field

This briefing paper looks at six key western communities and what they are doing to protect their watersheds and water supply. April 2015


Healthy Headwaters Ninth Leadership Convening Summary - Albuquerque, NM

Carpe Diem West's convening November 14, 2014, brought more than 60 leaders in the public, private, NGO, and scientific sectors to examine how to best preserve and restore the high elevation watersheds that are the source of most of the water in the American West. This Ninth Healthy Headwaters Leadership Convening, held in Albuquerque, focused on opportunities to strengthen local and regional partnerships that support water source protection and advance the key reasons for headwaters restoration in the time of a changing climate.


Success Story! Salt Lake City, UT - Remembering Our Relationship with Our Watershed

Salt Lake City sprawls across the valley floor below the towering mountains of the Wasatch Front. In addition to a stunning backdrop and world-class recreation, the 11,000-feet-high peaks provide clean, reliable water supplies to growing population of more than a half million people. This water comes almost entirely from melting snow—a virtual reservoir high in the mountains. Unfortunately, that reservoir is vulnerable to the impacts of a warming climate, which means more precipitation falling as rain in the winter, less reliable snowpack, and earlier, more rapid runoff in the spring. These changes could cause the city to face serious shortages and water quality problems in late summer and fall. June, 2014


Healthy Headwaters Eighth Leadership Convening Summary - Salt Lake City, UT

At its eighth convening held in December 2013, the Healthy Headwaters Leadership Team and invited guests developed the Watershed Investment Network initiative, a resource to assist western communities in securing the funding and policies necessary to allow for large-scale restoration investments in at-risk watersheds.


Watershed Investment Network - Assessment to Action

The Watershed Investment Network initiative is developing the resources to assist western communities in securing the funding and policies necessary to allow for large-scale restoration investments in at-risk watersheds. Fall 2013