Advancing remote sensing approaches to measure water yield, identify ecological forest restoration priorities, and promote watershed investment opportunities in fire prone watersheds in California.

Award Information
Agency: Department of Agriculture
Branch: N/A
Contract: 2018-33610-28617
Agency Tracking Number: 2018-03175
Amount: $599,477.00
Phase: Phase II
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: 8.1
Solicitation Number: N/A
Timeline
Solicitation Year: 2018
Award Year: 2018
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2018-09-01
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2020-08-31
Small Business Information
171 5TH ST, Lake Oswego, OR, 97034-3029
DUNS: 079985522
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Nicholas Wobbrock
 Partner and Co-Founder
 (503) 705-7720
 nick@blueforestconservation.com
Business Contact
 Nicholas Wobbrock
Title: Partner and Co-Founder
Phone: (503) 705-7720
Email: nick@blueforestconservation.com
Research Institution
N/A
Abstract
Forests across the Western U.S. are at a tipping point - overgrowth, a warming climate, drought, and insect infestations have ravaged tens of millions of acres of land, increasing the risk of wildfire and threatening water resources, air quality, communities, homes, and habitat. Forest restoration (the strategic removal of brush and shrubs and the selective thinning of trees to return forests to a healthier state) is a proven, but often underutilized, tool that can decrease these risks while also increasing water quantity. While forest restoration is well known to decrease the risk of severe wildfire, its impact on water quantity in regions such as California are not as well understood. As a result, potential beneficiaries of restoration like utilities do not account for its value when analyzing the cost/benefit of an investment in restoration projects. Without the ability to account for water quantity considerations, utilities often cannot make the economic case to invest in restoration projects as the benefits are too uncertain. We intend to change that through advances in research paired with an innovative public-private financing model that will empower utilities and other downstream beneficiaries to invest in forest health.For Phase II, we propose to continue to develop a remote-sensing-based watershed-scale toolkit for determining water-yield changes following forest restoration in California's Sierra Nevada, applied to a specific project as well as to the larger landscape to identify where opportunities for water-yield gains may be greatest. To create this framework, we will build upon our Phase I work to evaluate the accuracy of existing physically based hydrologic models, compared to results predicted using different remote sensing data for assessing water-yield changes following forest restoration.The purpose of the toolkit is to enable a more comprehensive approach to prioritizing restoration and reduce the uncertainty of water benefits associated with restoration projects. Success for this technology consists of widespread adoption by utilities and other potential customers across California, with the potential to scale to other high-exposure western states. The basic toolkit, which is likely to consist of a visualization dashboard summarizing expected water quantity benefits, can be offered as a free resource to all utilities, water-dependent companies, and land managers with a paid option for more in-depth analysis. The free toolkit will allow a customer to quantify and visualize fire risk and potential for water quantity gains on a watershed level. In order to determine the precise impacts to water quantity as a result of a restoration project in a specific location, the granular analysis option would be required with the customer either hiring our researchers for a consulting engagement and/or moving forward with us to package watershed investments. For those watersheds that would be a good fit for investment, the toolkit could serve as a powerful lead generation device.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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