Forests are critically important to the supply of clean drinking water in the Northeast and Midwest portion of the United States. In this part of the country more than 52 million people depend on surface water supplies that are protected in large part by forested lands. The public is generally unaware of the threats to their water supplies or the connection between clean water and the extent and condition of forest lands in source water watersheds. The future security of water supplies will not be ensured by a focus on water treatment alone.
Wetlands are complex and fascinating ecosystems that perform a variety of functions of vital importance to the environment and to the society whose very existence depends on the quality of the environment. Wetlands regulate water flow by detaining storm flows for short periods thus reducing flood peaks. Wetlands protect lake shore and coastal areas by buffering the erosive action of waves and other storm effects. Wetlands improve water quality by retaining or transforming excess nutrients and by trapping sediment and heavy metals.
The goal of the Upper Mississippi Forest Partnership is to improve water quality and migratory bird habitat by restoring and enhancing forests in the six-state watershed. This document summarizes the results of a GIS analysis that identified forests where allocation of resources would make the most difference. Also included in this document are case studies that represent priority areas in the six states of interest and involve the issues analyzed. Other land management entities can also use the resulting maps to plan and prioritize their work.