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Excellent Resources on the Socioeconomic Benefits of Restoration

August 31, 2012

We at the National Forest Foundation suggest you take a few minutes to review these excellent new resources developed by the Ecosystem Workforce Program at the University of Oregon. Read the message from EWP Director Cassandra Mosely to learn more…

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The Ecosystem Workforce Program at the University of Oregon is excited to announce three new resources to help integrate social and economic benefits into ecological restoration on public lands.

Two Quick Guides provide strategies for enhancing collaboration and local economic benefit from restoration work:

The first, A Quick Guide for Incorporating Collaboration into the Watershed Condition Framework, provides tips and strategies for increasing collaboration among national forests and partners at each phase of planning and implementation in the Framework.

The second, A Quick Guide for Creating High-Quality Jobs Through Restoration on National Forests, provides techniques for increasing local economic benefit and job creation from restoration using existing authorities and programs.

One report­,  Developing Socioeconomic Performance Measures Related to the Watershed Condition Framework, outlines strategies for developing new social and economic performance measures related to the Forest Service’s Watershed Condition Framework and restoration on public lands more generally.  The proposed performance measures make use of data the Forest Service already collects, and “score cards” that allow local units and their partners to monitor progress in the areas of adaptive capacity, economic benefit, and social equity.  We hope that this report will help the Forest Service and their partners develop local performance measures and monitoring frameworks to track the social and economic impacts of their efforts.  Over time, we hope this report will also foster a national dialogue about how to measure social and economic outcomes of restoration on public lands.

You can find all of these resources along with several briefing papers summarizing our findings here.

These resources were created in partnership with the US Forest Service Office of Watersheds, Fish, Wildlife, Air & Rare Plants.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or feedback.  Please share these resources with your networks.

Upcoming peer learning session offered!

August 7, 2012
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Please join us for an upcoming peer learning opportunity on Temporary Roads, jointly offered by the Montana Forest Restoration Committee and the National Forest Foundation.

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Temporary Roads

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time

The session will focus on the temporary road implementation process, from authorization, to on the ground work, to post-project follow-up. It is sure to be an educational session, with lots of vigorous discussion.

We will cover a variety of topics, including:

  • The definition of a temporary road: what qualifies and what doesn’t?
  • Where roads should and should not go
  • Temporary road design
  • Contracting
  • Best Management Practices and environmental sideboards
  • Seasonal management of temporary roads
  • Planning field trips to assess road design and removal

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Please note that this session is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time on Wednesday, August 22, 2012.  This peer learning session is being offered jointly by the Montana Forest Restoration Committee and the National Forest Foundation. An internet connection and a telephone are needed to join the session. 

For more information on the Montana Forest Restoration Committee, please visit: www.montanarestoration.org

Community-Based Watershed Management Forum brings Alaskans from far and wide

May 22, 2012

 

 

 

A three-year strategic partnership between the National Forest Foundation and the Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition recently culminated in a statewide Community-Based Watershed Management Forum, held in Juneau, Alaska March 7-9th 2012.

Natural resource professionals and watershed practitioners came from around the state to present on the innovative projects, program, and management strategies they are carrying out in communities and villages throughout Southeast Alaska and the state. The goal of the forum was to build the capacity of Southeast Alaska’s tribes, municipalities, agencies, and organizations to carry out community-based watershed projects and management strategies

 A diverse group of over 70 participants attended the forum, including representatives from over 15 communities, tribes, municipalities, federal and state natural resource agency, Native Corporations, industry, the private sector, and representatives from the Alaska state legislature.

This forum was the first of its kind, focusing entirely on building the capacity of natural resource and community development professionals working in the State of Alaska to strengthen collaborative efforts on the ground in communities and villages. The forum was structured around the three primary objectives which included 1) providing a networking opportunity by connecting a diverse group of professionals and community members, 2) offering trainings and specific tools and resources necessary for community based watershed management and planning, and 3) identifying strategic partnership opportunities and ways to work collaboratively across Southeast Alaska.

 Operating in isolated, rural communities local leaders and natural resource practitioners often do not have access to resources and information needed to effectively steward their local watersheds. Furthermore, they very rarely have the opportunity to come together with other practitioners to discuss what is working and how we can work together for greater impact. Many of the common themes heard at the Community Based Watershed Management Forum stressed the importance of networking in order to share project ideas and lessons learned. This forum also provided the opportunity to further develop strategic partnerships for the benefit of Southeast Alaska watersheds and the communities that depend upon them.

 

From additional information on the Forum, as well as, access to the PowerPoint Presentations and Trainings please visit SAWC’s website: [Click here!]

 

In the Wake of the Storm: The White Mountain National Forest Picks Up After Tropical Storm Irene

May 10, 2012

In August of 2011, Tropical Storm Irene raged through the Northeast.  While much of the press centered around damage to the towns and infrastructure in the neighboring state of Vermont, the White Mountain National Forest sustained approximately $10 million worth of damage across the 800,000 acre forest.  On a forest known for the wild weather that regularly besieges Mt. Washington, between three and ten inches of rain fell in just a few hours, seriously damaging or washing out bridges, eroding roads, and causing rivers and streams to jump their banks and rage down the forest’s trails.

In the aftermath, the Forest Service surveyed the extensive damage.  Once-shallow streams had become deep channels, and sediment and debris had filled in some area’s of the deeper rivers.  Bridges and culverts sat askew, no longer appropriately sized for the drastically shifted water flows.  Access to trailheads and campgrounds was no longer navigable, leaving eight roads still completely closed to vehicles.

Though the forest management and local partner organizations have taken action to repair as much as possible as quickly as they can, visitors to the White Mountains this summer will still see an area in need of much repair.  Trails are still quite rough, with exposed roots and rock work as well as ever-changing water patterns making for wet footing.  Some trails are completely closed both for hiker safety as well as erosion control—or in some cases, the trail just isn’t there anymore.

In a dynamic ecosystem, this storm represented not just destruction, but change.  The sediment deposited on streambanks and gravel bars will provide nutrients for increased vegetation to take hold.  Timber and debris deposited in river channels will provide new habitat for fish like the Eastern Brook Trout, and the employees on the WMNF are working to evaluate how to address the changes in a way that both respects the goals of recreationalists as well as the needs of the resource.  In some cases, this will mean that trails and campgrounds are closed for a significant period of time while staff determine how the ecosystem will settle out naturally.  Some trails will need to be significantly re-routed. Some trails are just not possible to restore as they existed in their previous incarnations due to major shifts in terrain.  All in all, the staff of the White Mountain National Forest and their local partners have a significant amount of ground-truthing and planning to do.

Fortunately, they have put in place a number of agreements with local partner organizations to address a significant amount of the required trail restoration. The Appalachian Mountain Club and Randolph Mountain Club maintain extensive networks of trails across the forest, and a contract with Trout Unlimited will enable work to be done to provide aquatic passage for native fish.

Furthermore, the White Mountain National Forest will be rolled out as a Treasured Landscape campaign site by the National Forest Foundation, helping to bring in additional funds to help restore ecosystem function and forest access to this iconic Northeast landscape over the coming years. 

If you’d like to get involved and volunteer, please visit:

Partner Success: Whychus Creek is now redirected into the carefully restored channel through Camp Polk Meadow

February 29, 2012

From the Deschutes Land Trust:
This morning Whychus Creek returned to historic Camp Polk Meadow for the first time in 47 years.  Restoration crews redirected the full flow of the creek into its historic path through the meadow, marking a major step in the return of salmon and steelhead to the upper Deschutes Basin.

Following more than a decade of planning and preparation, bulldozers gathered at the intersection of the old and newly restored channels and dumped 10,000 cubic yards of rocks, trees, and dirt into Whychus Creek. The flow was instantly redirected into the restored channel. At the same time, biologists and teams of volunteers with buckets helped rescue all the fish left in the blocked channel and moved to their home in the new Whychus Creek.

“It’s incredible to see a project in which so many have worked patiently for so many years finally come to fruition. The Land Trust has worked toward this day for over 15 years, but we couldn’t have done it without our many partners, funders and volunteers. Together, we’ve created a slow, meandering new stream channel that can provide essential spawning and rearing habitat for the historic return of salmon and steelhead,” said Brad Chalfant, the Land Trust’s executive director.

The Whychus Creek restoration at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve is a joint effort between the Deschutes Land Trust, the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council and the Deschutes National Forest.  Primary funders of the project include: Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Pelton Round Butte Fund (Portland General Electric & the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs), Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Forest Foundation, Bella Vista Foundation, Laird Norton Family Foundation, Deschutes River Conservancy, Freshwater Trust, The Nature Conservancy and East Cascade Audubon Society.

To learn more about the success of Camp Polk and Whychus Creek, [Click here].

Big news for forests and those who work in them

February 8, 2012

Reposted from the Forest Business Network. To see the original post, [click here].

By Craig Rawlings – Forest Business Network

As a member of the Southwestern Crown of the Continent Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration (CFLR) project and recent addition to the CFLR Coalition steering committee, it was exciting to hear Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s big announcement last week of $40 million in funding for new and existing CFLR projects and an additional $4.6 million to support other high priority restoration projects. The funding will benefit forests and workers alike, which is no small reason for celebration.

The CFLR Program was created by the United States Congress under Title IV of the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. The CFLR Program encourages the collaborative, science-based ecosystem restoration of priority forest landscapes. The CFLR Coalition was formed to secure full funding for, and ensure the success of, the CFLR Program and now has 144 member organizations that share this goal.

CFLR has many benefits. For years I had heard from folks that the Forest Service waited too long before involving the public in land management planning processes. Thanks to the CFLR Program, that problem is closer to being solved. These days, instead of the Forest Service taking a couple of years to design a project then going to the public for their opinion, the public is involved from the beginning.

All told, it’s easy to see how this is a program we can truly get excited about in the forest products industry.

The following 10 new projects are approved for funding in 2012:

Burney-Hat Creek Basins Project, California – $605,000
Pine-Oak Woodlands Restoration Project, Missouri – $617,000
Shortleaf-Bluestem Community Project, Arkansas and Oklahoma – $342,000
Weiser-Little Salmon Headwaters Project, Idaho – $2,450,000
Kootenai Valley Resource Initiative, Idaho – $324,000
Southern Blues Restoration Coalition, Oregon – $2,500,000
Lakeview Stewardship Project, Oregon – $3,500,000
Zuni Mountain Project, New Mexico – $400,000
Grandfather Restoration Project, North Carolina – $605,000
Amador-Calaveras Consensus Group Cornerstone Project, California – $730,000

The following three projects are considered high priority restoration and are approved for funding in 2012 outside of the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Act:

Northeast Washington Forest Vision 2020, Washington – $968,000
Ozark Highlands Ecosystem Restoration, Arkansas – $959,000
Longleaf Pine Ecosystem Restoration and Hazardous Fuels Reduction, De Soto National Forest, National Forests in Mississippi – $2,710,000

The following 10 Collaborative Forest Landscape projects were approved for funding in 2010 and will continue to receive funding in 2012:

Selway-Middle Fork Clearwater Project, Idaho
Southwestern Crown of the Continent, Montana
Colorado Front Range, Colorado
Uncompahgre Plateau, Colorado
4 Forest Restoration Initiative, Arizona
Southwest Jemez Mountains, New Mexico
Dinkey Landscape Restoration Project, California
Deschutes Skyline, Oregon
Tapash Sustainable Forest Collaborative, Washington
Accelerating Longleaf Pine Restoration, Florida

Non-profit Ecology: 8 Lessons in Collaborative Leadership

February 6, 2012
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Back in October 2011, the NFF held its seventh Collaboration & Capacity-Building Workshop in Lyons, Colorado. One of the sessions focused on collaborative leadership, and we asked several collaborative leaders (who also happen to be leaders of collaboratives!) to talk about the leadership structures of their groups and to share any advice and lessons they’ve learned over the years. Here is a synopsis of Annie Schmidt’s lessons. We’re sure you’ll recognize the wisdom of her words, as well as get a chuckle from her creative metaphors.

Non-profit Ecology: 8 Lessons in Collaborative Leadership

 Ecology is the study of the relationships of organisms to each other and to their environment.  And what is more about relationships than collaborative non-profits?  The fact that we all work in the natural resource field only makes the comparison of our non-profit ecosystem to the natural one more apt.  So, in the spirit of non-profit ecology*, here are eight lessons the natural world can teach us about leadership.

  1.   Hierarchy doesn’t equal leadership.  Just because you are the oldest wolf (or the E.D) in the pack, it doesn’t make you the automatic leader.  Respect your team and they will respect you.  Remember, leadership is something you can improve.
  2. Old wolves have seen more scat than you have – so pay attention when they try to tell you something.
  3. Fly in a V – common goals and shared vision matter.  Birds flying in a V-formation can go further together than they can go alone.  They are a team, headed in the same direction and they leave and arrive together.  The birds support each other and so should your team.  As the guy in front tires, another takes his or her place.
  4. Every bird counts – value your team.  Every bird (or Board Member) should know they matter to the destination, because they do.
  5. Succession is important.  No organization should be one charismatic leader away from failure.  Each bird in the V steps up when needed.  Every bird is prepared to contribute to the mission.
  6. Don’t get too far out front or the pack will turn on you.  Sometimes, change is slow… and you can only go as fast as the slowest member of your team.
  7. Employ tenacious creativity (phrase from Leading at the Edge – Leadership lessons from the Extraordinary saga of Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition).  What creature is more tenaciously creative than ants?  Those can find their way into anything and then COMMUNICATE that information CLEARLY to others.  Be industrious, be tenacious, and be creative.  Be an ant.
  8. Feed your pack – both literally and figuratively.  Starving animals are a little unpredictable.  In a literal sense, provide food at meetings because there is something calming and bonding about sharing a bite to eat.  Figuratively, think about the ants and birds.  Ants form those industrious little trails searching for food.  Birds band together to migrate to where they will have better food and shelter.  Both species are seeking nourishment and, in a more general sense, survival.  Your team members are seeking nourishment too – that is why they volunteer.  It may be personal satisfaction, it may be sense of accomplishment, real change on the ground, or something entirely different – their reasons will differ.  But you, as a leader, can figure out what they are seeking (ask them!) and provide it.  Show the Board the impact of their actions.  Feed them, because if you don’t – they will find an organization that will.  Or they will eat you.

* “Non-profit ecology” is a completely made-up term designed to provide a cool (or at least intellectual-sounding) framework for the ramblings of the author, Annie Schmidt, Director of the Chumstick Wildfire Stewardship Coalition.

Guest Post: A Watershed Year for Collaboration

February 3, 2012
The NFF was fortunate to have Emily Biesecker, Presidential Management Fellow at the National Partnership Office in Washington, D.C., with us in our Missoula office for four months. She has now returned to the big city- we’ll miss her!

For the Forest Service and its partners, 2011 was a watershed year for collaboration. There is a mounting recognition that the agency needs a contemporary way of working if it is to tackle contemporary challenges. The only way the Forest Service can accomplish its mission is to work together with partners and collaborators across all lands in pursuit of common goals. The National Forest Foundation has a long history in collaborative approaches to land stewardships; the skills and experience they bring are the reason they have shared so much in the successes of collaboration this year.

 

Through its Empowering Collaborative Stewardship Project, the Forest Service has launched an effort to build collaborative capacity within the agency and collaborative skill sets among its employees. Married to this effort is the understanding that, to be effective, collaborative skills within the Forest Service must be met by collaborative skills among its many partners. In November 2011, NFF facilitated an online showcase of the first set of tools developed by the Project to guide Forest Service staff, partners, and collaborators through common questions about collaboration. These resources – and many others – are available on the Partnership Resource Center and the NFF Collaboration Resources library.

 

This year, we saw the development of the new Planning Rule, touted as the most collaborative rulemaking process in the history of the agency. The Rule itself will provide more opportunity for substantial public involvement throughout the planning process, particularly in the early stages. This year, the Rule’s collaborative credo will be tested as it is implemented on National Forests across the country.

 

All signs point to a 2012 that will continue this trend toward collaboration. In 2011, with NFF serving as a convener and facilitator, a network of Forest Service and partner representatives for each active Collaborative Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) project developed and proposed a national framework of indicators to chart their work. Just days ago, on February 3, the Forest Service announced ten new collaborative restoration projects to be funded through CFLRP. These ten projects, along with the ten active projects selected for funding in 2010, will see $40 million applied to their collaboratively designed and implemented restoration solutions.

 

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After sharing nearly four months with the National Forest Foundation in Missoula, I’ve come away with a heightened understanding of the NFF as both an institution and a critical partner. I was given a chance to remove the blinders that even a single year of federal service can erect. I had the opportunity to be re-grounded in the work of non-federal partners, and to recognize the inter-dependence of the Forest Service and partners at all levels of the agency. My greatest pleasure was to get to know the people behind the organization that works so closely and supports so whole-heartedly the mission of the US Forest Service. It is a staff with an inspiring passion for public lands, apparent in all they do.

Forest Service Report: How fuels treatments saved homes from the Wallow Fire

January 24, 2012

This report, released by the Forest Service, touches on a subject very close to home for many collaborative groups in the west: fuel treatments and fire.  With maps, photos, and testimonials from residents, firefighters, and the Forest Service, this report portrays the before, during, and after of the Wallow Fire in Arizona.

[Click here] to read the report.

Volunteers Patrol the Southeast

January 13, 2012

Reposted from the Smoky Mountain News:

Next time you hike a trail, pause a minute and give silent thanks to the legion of trail volunteers who have taken up arms and engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the forest, hacking back the undergrowth and clearing obstructive logs.

Volunteer trail crews devoted 28,000 hours of labor in North Carolina’s national forests last year. It often seems like an uphill battle, with the earth constantly trying to reclaim the zigzag of footpaths cut through mountains, but so far crews are holding their own.

“The trails, I think, are really in good shape,” said Mary Gollwitzer, a hiker in Haywood County.

Before Gollwitzer leads a hike for her club — known as the Leisure Hikers — she makes a practice of scouting the trail ahead of time.

“I don’t like to all of a sudden lead a hike and never have gone on it myself. I stay away from that because I don’t know what to expect,” Gollwitzer said.

She might revise the hike plan if the trail is too steep or has large boulders to scramble over, but she’s never ruled out a hike for the club because of maintenance issues.

Volunteer trail crews make sure the cumulative mass of fallen limbs and downed trees don’t eventually overwhelm trails. They build back washed out bridges, repair eroding trail beds, fix soggy sections by diverting water from the trail, and cart out lots and lots of trash.

There are more than two dozen volunteer groups in the mountains that lend their sweat and muscle to take care of trails. The biggest is Carolina Mountain Club, which runs six volunteer trail crews that comb the mountains several times a week fixing problem spots on the trail.

“Our primary mission is to promote hiking in Western North Carolina, and of course, that means we need trails to hike on,” said Marcia Bromberg, president of Carolina Mountain Club.

Carolina Mountain Club logged 17,344 volunteer hours for trail maintenance in 2011, covering about 400 miles of trail.

Carolina Mountain Club is a stickler for detail when it comes to their trail work, approaching their maintenance reports with a level of notation and specificity you would expect from a NASA shuttle launch.

Some trail volunteers pack their handheld GPS unit, able to catalog the exact trouble spot.

“I observed a dead fall at E 36404, N 3946090 whose removal will require a later trip,” crew leader Wayne Steinmetz reported on a trail scouting trip.

Or, “I observed that ice covered the trail at E 365491, N 3946623 (WGS 83 horizontal datum).”

Their trail maintenance log from 2011 goes on like this — for 190 pages — detailing the who, what, when and how of more than 1,200 volunteer work outings held last year by their various trail crews.

“Hiked in from Sunburst on FS 97 and 97H. Cleared several simple downs, repaired tread at two wash locations and lopped rodies and beech sprouts along uphill side of trail,” Paul Dickens wrote in his report of a workday in the Middle Prong Wilderness in Haywood County last January.

Most trail reports are highly clinical in nature, but you can always tell when Becky Smucker’s come through. She can’t resist throwing in a line about the weather and her botanical findings of the day.

“We did a spring scout of Shining Creek Trail …We removed downs, lopped some, fixed some drainage, reworked one major tread problem, removed some fire rings and carried out a little trash. It was a gorgeous spring days, and giant Vasey’s trillium was in bloom,” Smucker wrote in one report from a workday near Cold Mountain in Haywood County last May.

Strength in numbers

Several volunteer trail groups have sprung up to take care of trails in a very specific area, such as Friends of Whiteside Mountain in Highlands, or of a particular trail, like the Bartram Trail Society or Benton MacKaye Trail Association.

One of these hyper-local groups is the Friends of Panthertown in the Cashiers area of Jackson County — a group united by their love for the place known as “Yosemite of the East.”

The idea of small-scale, local groups taking care of their own little slice of trails is a model the forest service would like to emulate in its quest to build a larger volunteer base, said Jason Kimenker, the director of Friends of Panthertown. The group, which numbers 350 members dedicated to the protection and preservation of Panthertown, has about three dozen trail volunteers who turn out for regular workdays.

In reality, a relatively minute percentage of hikers actually volunteer to work on trails. But adding more volunteers to the mix isn’t a simple solution, Bromberg said. Orchestrating trail crews is complicated and time consuming.

“There are various skill levels, everything from trained sawyers and people like me who go out with my loppers and that’s about the best that I’m going to be able to do,” Bromberg said.

While hikers constitute the vast majority of volunteers working on trails, mountain bikers have upped their presence considerably in recent years. Several mountain bike chapters hold regular trail workdays. They concentrate their efforts in popular mountain bike destinations, like Tsali, Bent Creek and DuPont State Forest.

Horseback groups have historically been the least represented in trail maintenance circles but have been pitching in more in recent years.

Where the forest service can’t keep up, “friends of various stripes have come in and taken a piece of the burden off them,” Bromberg said.

The Wilderness Society last year launched a trail crew to focus on maintenance specifically in national forest areas designated as “wilderness.” Wilderness areas are a challenge when it comes to trail maintenance because power tools aren’t allowed, which means no chainsaws.

The Southern Appalachian Wilderness Stewards uses a combination of volunteer and paid trail crews, with the help of a grant from the National Forest Foundation.

“It was birthed to take some of the pressure off the trail clubs, which found they couldn’t support more wilderness designations if they couldn’t take care of their trails,” said Brent Martin with The Wilderness Society’s Southern Appalachian field office in Sylva.

To view the original article, [click here].