Testimony

 

Statement of

Christine Nota

Regional Forester’s Representative in Sacramento

United States Department of Agriculture

Before the

U.S. House of Representatives

House Resources Committee

Subcommittee on Water and Power

June 28, 2003

 Concerning

the

CALFED Bay-Delta Program

Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:

Thank you for the opportunity to be here today.  I am Christine Nota, Representative to the Pacific Southwest Regional Forester for the Forest Service in California.  I appreciate the opportunity to appear before you to briefly discuss the USDA Forest Service role in the CALFED Bay-Delta Program.

Forest Service Participation

The Forest Service’s involvement in the CALFED Bay-Delta Program dates back to 1997 during the planning process.  The Forest Service was a signatory to the CALFED Record of Decision in August 2000.  The Forest Service played an active role in developing the Watershed Program, which expanded the original scope of the CALFED program to include the “watershed” lands that contribute flow to the Bay-Delta ecosystem.  The Watershed Program goals closely mirror the Forest Service mission of “caring for the land and serving people.”   

The CALFED Program

The mandate of CALFED is to develop and implement a long-term comprehensive plan that will restore ecological health and improve water management for beneficial uses of the Bay-Delta System. 

Specifically, two of the direct functions of CALFED are as follows:

These functions relate directly to Forest Service programs and activities to protect the public’s natural resources, restore ecological health, and improve water management.

The Forest Service Link to CALFED Bay Delta Program Goals

While the Forest Service does not have direct management responsibilities for lands in the Bay-Delta area, the Agency manages more than fifty percent of the lands that feed water into the Bay-Delta system.  Just over eighty percent of the water that finds its way to the Bay-Delta runs off National Forest System lands.  That means the health of those forests and the upper watersheds is a critical factor in meeting CALFED Bay-Delta Program goals.  The Forest Service does not have any direct authority for implementation of specific CALFED Bay- Delta program elements.   For that reason our agency is not shown on the Federal Authorities Matrix.  However, the management of the National Forests contributes directly to the attainment of the goals of several of the elements in the CAFLFED Bay-Delta program.  Various National Forests also surround many critical water storage reservoirs, including Lake Shasta, the largest reservoir for the Central Valley project. 

In managing National Forest System lands, the Forest Service’s primary focus is the protection, maintenance and estoration of these lands.  Day to day work on every National Forest in California is directly related to forest and watershed health and contributes to the attainment of CALFED’s goals and objectives.  

Complementary Forest Service Community Programs

The Forest Service has many programs that complement the efforts of CALFED.  The Agency’s State and Private Forestry program provides funding and technical assistance to the State and local communities for land stewardship and watershed protection activities.  In addition, funding is provided to the State and local communities through the National Fire Plan and other sources for work that helps protect watersheds and communities from intense and damaging wildfires, including the support of local community Fire Safe Councils.  The Forest Service also provides direct support for fifteen Resource Advisory Councils (RACs) across California through the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act of 2000 (P.L. 106-393).  The Act requires that one-half of the work the RACs fund address watershed restoration or road improvement needs. In many cases, the local RACS are exceeding the fifty percent requirement. These activities encourage and foster active participation and interaction between local communities and the local Forest to improve stewardship of local watersheds. 

In conclusion, the Forest Service believes that the cooperative CALFED Bay-Delta Program and its goals are critical in meeting California’s water needs for the future. We will continue to support it through our work on the land and our participation in the CALFED Bay-Delta Program.  

This concludes my statement.  I would be pleased to answer any questions that Members of the Subcommittee may have.