Opening Session Panel
Director, Natural Infrastructure Initiative
World Resources Institute
Project Manager, Lower Yuba River Management Team
Yuba Water Agency
In California, 2018 was the most deadly and destructive wildfire year on record. Wildfire destroys and degrades forests, contaminates water supplies, releases greenhouse gases, puts lives, property and infrastructure at risk, and negatively impacts local economies. Rising temperatures, drought conditions and a legacy of fire suppression in the West make wildfires worse, while an increasing amount of the Forest Service’s budget goes to firefighting, at the expense of preventing the next fire by restoring overgrown, stressed forest.
Now, a new financial instrument called the Forest Resilience Bond (“FRB”) enables private capital to invest in forest health restoration such as reduced wildfire risk and augmented water quality and quantity. The FRB raises private capital from investors to finance forest restoration today, to reduce the risk of severe fire tomorrow. The November 2018 inaugural launch of the FRB in northern CA’s North Yuba River watershed mobilized $4.6 million to restore forest health across 15,000 acres in the Tahoe National Forest. Yuba Water Agency, recognizing the risk to their infrastructure and operations, was a critical beneficiary of the pilot. The World Resources Institute’s Todd Gartner and Yuba Water Agency’s Willie Whittlesey will discuss the partners, investors, mechanics and benefits of the first pilot, key elements of the FRB mechanism, and ways other utilities across CA can explore fighting fire with finance in their watersheds.