After a decade of revision and litigation, on Feb 10. the U.S. Forest Service unveiled its proposed Forest Planning Rule, which would establish a new framework to protect the 193 million acres of national forests and grasslands, including more than 20 million acres in California.
There are 220,000 miles of streams and rivers, and more than 2.3 million acres of lakes, ponds and reservoirs in the National Forest System — an area of fresh water about 3 ½ times the size of Rhode Island. These waters provide habitat for native fish, while forests and grasslands themselves act as a massive filtering system, supplying an estimated economic value of $7.2 billion in water alone, according to the Forest Service.
Water is one of the most important resources found in forests. The Forest Service manages the largest single source of water in the U.S., providing drinking water to more than 66 million people, according to the agency.