Brush cleared from a forest in the Denver, Colorado, area.
Forest Restoration Brush cleared from a forest in the Denver, Colorado, area. ©: Weston Toll/TNC

Stories in Colorado

Clean Water for Denver

Restoring forests and reducing wildfire risk in the Upper South Platte watershed is helping protect clean water for Colorado's largest city.

Forests, Fires and Water Restoring forests to reduce wildfire risk leads to a healthier, cleaner water supply.

Over a third of Colorado’s landscape consists of diverse and beautiful forests. They provide habitat for wildlife and serve as an outdoor sanctuary for hikers, fishers, and campers. They also safeguard water quality and security for 70% of Coloradans.

The Upper South Platte watershed is the principle water source for the Denver metro area. The 1996 Buffalo Creek and the 2002 Hayman Fires demonstrated the watershed’s vulnerability to post-fire soil erosion and sedimentation of its rivers, reservoirs, and streams. Combined, these two fires resulted in over $27 million in damages to water sources.

A fireworker burns brush piles that have been cut to reduce wildfire risk and protect clean water in the Denver, Colorado, area.
Pile Burning A fireworker burns brush piles that have been cut to reduce wildfire risk and protect clean water in the Denver, Colorado, area. © Lauryn Wachs/TNC

To protect this vital river system, PepsiCo, MillerCoors, and the Wells Fargo Foundation supported The Nature Conservancy’s efforts to reduce wildfire risks and to improve the long-term health of the Upper South Platte Watershed. This cross-market effort serves as a model for the Denver business community: three global corporations working together to support TNC as we return the watershed’s forest to a state of health and resiliency.

By restoring our forests, we give it back its ability to protect the watershed and to clean and store the water that flows from our faucets and onto our crops.