This past fall, Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Coca-Cola Americas President Steve Cahillane announced a public-private partnership to restore and protect damaged watersheds in the National Forest System, which provides drinking water to more than 60 million Americans.
Coca-Cola, along with the National Forest Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, will match every federal dollar spent on the initiative two-to-one. Together, these efforts aim to return more than 1 billion liters, or 264 million gallons, of water to at-risk national lands.
“By working together, we can better protect our nation’s watersheds and further enhance restoration efforts, even during challenging budget times,” Secretary Vilsack said at a public announcement on Midewin Tallgrass Prairie in Illinois.
Learn more about the partnership by watching this video.
This isn’t the first time the beverage behemoth and the Department of Agriculture have teamed up to restore public lands. The company and the USDA began collaborating last year to restore wildfire-damaged watersheds in California and Colorado.
Stream channels affected by severe wildfires are now rehabilitated and help provide clean water for the greater Denver area. And in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, water is returned to its natural flow through a meadow, improving the watershed that supplies the East Bay area, according to the USDA. These projects and others like them have already replenished an estimated 500 million liters of water.
The organizations signed an agreement formalizing this latest partnership to continue through 2018. Over the next five years, the new initiative will restore a wetland near Chicago, remove invasive weeds in California’s Angeles National Forest, and restore streams in New Mexico and the Lake Michigan watershed.
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