The Sierra Nevada provides more than 60 percent of the developed water supply for California.
High-severity wildfire places this water supply at risk. The upper Mokelumne River watershed in
the central Sierra Nevada supplies drinking water to 1.3 million residents of the San Francisco Bay
Area and provides valuable goods and services, including but not limited to forest and agricultural
products, hydropower energy, recreation, wildlife habitat and carbon sequestration. Like other
Sierra Nevada and western watersheds, much of the Mokelumne watershed is at very high risk of
Although wildfire and the associated costs are increasing in the western United States, few studies have taken a hard look at the costs and benefits of fuel treatments to determine if an increased investment in treatments makes economic sense. Through a collaborative process with key stakeholders and using state-of-the-art models for fire, vegetation and post-fire erosion, this study analyzes the potential impacts of a landscape-scale fuel treatments program in the upper Mokelumne watershed. In addition, it examines who would benefit the most from investing in fuel treatments and reducing the risk of high-intensity wildfires. The findings can help inform forest management not only in the Mokelumne watershed, but also in similar watersheds throughout the Sierra Nevada and the western United States.

This study was prepared by The Nature Conservancy, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, and the US Forest Service.

You can read the report here: