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A major product of Georgia’s forests is water

Water, of course, is essential for life, and when we turn on the tap we expect clean, healthy water. But to ensure clean water, we also must protect the land.

Conservationist Michael Dombeck, who headed the U.S. Forest Service from 1997 to 2001, helped convince me years ago: “Water is perhaps the most important forest product,” he explained. “Forests generate most of the (drinking) water in this country.”

That includes Atlanta, where most of our drinking water originates in the Chattahoochee National Forest in North Georgia’s mountains.

Forests do this, Dombeck noted, this way: “The complex array of trees, shrubs, ground covers and roots slows runoff from rain and snow, and water is purified as it percolates through the soil and into aquifers. By slowing runoff, forests also reduce floods and erosion, minimizing the sediment entering streams and rivers.”

Clean water, of course, is not the only free service from forests. Natural areas also help clean the air, provide homes for an amazing diversity of wildlife and provide recreation that helps rejuvenate the human spirit.

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