Skip to content



Redefining Water Infrastructure



Forests and Our Water Supply


[02:19] Introduction of Laurie A. Wayburn.

[02:39] Laurie shares when she realized forest and natural-resource conservation would be her life’s work.

[04:28] Laurie elaborates on what she means by “wealth” in her quote, “Nature is central to our emotional, physical, and spiritual wealth and well-being…Nature is where our wealth comes from.”

[06:23] Laurie describes the Pacific Forest Trust and what their mission is.

[08:35] Laurie shares the extent of the drought and water crisis western states are facing and if there is a connection between the drought and frequent wildfires.

[12:12] Laurie confirms the accurate description of California’s water availability and population.

[12:29] Are there regional inequities in terms of accessing available fresh water sources in California, and are there really water wars happening in the West?

[14:25] What are the challenges in California of preserving the relationship with those with the water supply? What is being done to preserve that relationship?

[17:17] Laurie explains what could be done for the landowners in order to compensate them in a way that would preserve the water supply.

[20:34] Laurie addresses the EPA’s waters of the United States rule of which water bodies, including wetlands, need to be protected.

[23:17] Why is the concept of a water fee or tax—which could accumulate into a very large fund—so controversial?

[27:22] Laurie shares where people can learn more about her work.

[28:03] Laurie shares one change that would lead to smarter, more sustainable, and more equitable communities.

[28:22] Laurie describes the action listeners can take to help build a more equitable and sustainable future.

[28:36] Laurie explains what the forests in California look like 30 years from now.


Laurie A. Wayburn is the Co-founder, Co-CEO and President of the Pacific Forest Trust. Ms. Wayburn is an accomplished forest and conservation innovator who advises policymakers at the state, regional, national, and international levels. She pioneers new approaches to develop sustainable resource economies using her deep experience in the fields of conservation, ecosystem services, and sustainability. A preeminent authority on the climate and ecosystem benefits of forests, she leads efforts enacting climate change policies that unite conservation and sustainable management with market-based approaches. She has received several highly prestigious honors bestowed for her leadership and is a frequent speaker, writer, and media commentator on working forest conservation.

Prior to co-founding Pacific Forest Trust with Constance Best in 1993, Ms. Wayburn worked internationally for 10 years in the United Nations Environment Program and Ecological Sciences Division of UNESCO. She later served as Executive Director of the Point Reyes Bird Observatory and was the Founder and first Coordinator of the Central California Coast Biosphere Reserve. Ms. Wayburn is a graduate of Harvard University and currently serves on the Northwest BioCarbon Initiative Steering Committee, the American Forest Policy Steering Committee, and the Land Trust Alliance Advisory Council.


The mission of the Pacific Forest Trust is to sustain America’s forests for their public benefits of wood, water, wildlife, and people’s well-being, in cooperation with landowners and communities.

For more than 20 years, Pacific Forest Trust has epitomized innovation, daring, and a savvy understanding of market forces to create new economic incentives that reward private forest owners for conserving their lands and practicing sustainable forestry.

They are a visionary think-and-do tank of scientists, conservationists, policy wonks, entrepreneurs, and outdoor enthusiasts that have helped shape forest conservation and climate policy. Working closely with other forest stakeholders, from landowners to agencies to environmental nonprofit partners, they create and advance high-leverage, catalytic strategies that engage the commitment, imagination, and resources of many individuals, businesses, and organizations to make it easier and more rewarding to do good things for the forests—and forest landowners—on which we all depend.

The only conservation organization focused on private forests in California, Oregon, and Washington, they have conserved 250,000 acres of vital forestland regionally. Their work has been recognized for its excellence by government agencies, philanthropies, and non-profit organizations.


“It is both scientifically and empirically shown that being in forests makes you feel better. And it does; it really does raise the body’s own ability to fight infection and disease.”

“Our [Pacific Forest Trust] big mission is to sustain America’s forests for all their public benefits of wood, water, wildlife, and well-being, in cooperation with landowners, managers, and communities.”

“…We [Pacific Forest Trust] said, well, gosh, is there a way we can marry how people earn money, with stewardship and protecting the public benefits of those forests; and so we really wanted to create an organization that pioneered and developed new sources of financial return for landowners who managed for the public benefit and stewarded and protected their forests.”

“Twenty-five thousand, fifteen thousand years ago we had about double the rainfall in California that we have today in Southern California. A significant drying trend has been rapidly accelerated with the rise of global warming and the increase in these global-warming gasses.”


Listen to Infinite Earth Radio Episode 023: Using Nature to Combat Climate Change—The Nature Conservancy

Learn why forests matter to EVERYONE

Support the Pacific Forest Trust

Sign up to receive monthly updates about Pacific forests, conservation projects, and more from the Pacific Forest Trust

Pacific Forest Trust

Follow Pacific Forest Trust on Twitter


Thanks so much for joining us. Have some feedback or an idea you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comment section below.

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and leave an honest review for Infinite Earth Radio on iTunes. Ratings and reviews are super helpful and greatly appreciated as it helps us expose this show to a wider audience – plus, we read each and every one of them!