“Letter to the Editor” as seen in The New York Times in response to Justin Gillis’ article “With Deaths of Forests, a Loss of Key Climate Protectors

There is another crucial link between our forests and life on earth that was not mentioned in your article. Forests provide natural filtration and storage systems that process and deliver nearly two-thirds of the world’s fresh water.

By capturing and filtering rain in their canopies and roots, trees ensure that water is cleaned, underground aquifers are refilled, and moisture is released back into the atmosphere at a pace that mitigates flooding, runoff and erosion. This process is essential to sustaining a clean water supply. When forests are threatened, fresh water supplies are threatened.

Today, America’s Western mountain forests are in critical danger, with beetles and blister rust killing millions of trees and wildfires intensifying.

But this is not a localized problem. The Colorado River basin watershed provides water to many Southwestern states, including to the rich agricultural fields of California, which grow much of the nation’s produce.

SCOTT STEEN
Chief Executive, American Forests