WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Coca-Cola Company on Tuesday signed a memorandum of understanding renewing a 10-year partnership to restore and improve watersheds on national forests and grasslands nationwide.
Since 2013, this partnership has led to the restoration of nearly 900 acres of watersheds and replenished more than 634 million gallons of water on national forests and grasslands. Over this time, the National Forest Foundation has played a key role in coordinating 25 projects in nine states. These projects restored more than 14 miles of streams, reconnected 17 miles of river and 62 acres of lakes, treated more than 450 acres of invasive weeds, and much more.
“Our national forests and grasslands face tremendous threats from wildfires, invasive species, pests and extended drought, all made worse by climate change,” said Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Xochitl Torres Small. “To meet challenges at this scale, we have to manage for the long term, think creatively and work together. Thanks to our partners, we are doing more than any one of us can do alone. I’m confident this agreement will continue to build on ten years of cooperative success.”
More than 60 million Americans get their drinking water from national forests and grasslands. With so many communities relying on healthy, resilient forests to provide them a reliable source of drinking water, seeking out and building partnerships is a shared goal of USDA and contributing partners like the National Forest Foundation and the Coca-Cola Company.
“Water stewardship has long been a business imperative at the Coca-Cola Company. We are committed to being responsible stewards of this vital resource by accelerating our efforts to address water stress, protect local water resources and build community climate resilience,” said Jennifer Mann, President of Coca-Cola North America. “This renewed partnership will place a greater priority on benefitting historically underserved communities. It also continues to help us make progress toward our goal to return a cumulative 2 trillion liters of water to nature and communities globally between 2021-2030.”
“Innovative partnerships like this one are vital for making sure streams and rivers retain their ability to provide for nature and people,” said Marcus Selig, chief conservation officer of the National Forest Foundation. “Support from The Coca-Cola Company has allowed us to achieve so much on the ground success already, with this renewed commitment we look forward to accomplishing more.”
So far, the Coca-Cola Company and the Coca-Cola Foundation have contributed more than $2.6 million to this partnership. The Coca-Cola Company, the Coca-Cola Foundation and Swire Coca-Cola have contributed nearly $900,000 of funding towards projects being implemented in 2023 including projects in Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico that will restore stream and wetland health.
Along with partner and USDA funding, the work conducted under the life of the partnership so far has surpassed $5 million.