Situation Assessment for a Network of Forest Collaboratives

Colorado forests and watersheds are facing increasing risk from climate change, wildfires, and other disturbances. Communities, land managers, and policy makers are developing strategies and activities to address these issues at a meaningful scale. That means collectively identifying statewide priorities and goals and supporting planning and implementation at local levels. Place-based forest collaborative groups continue to be a vital link in this necessary alignment.

Colorado has more than 200 place-based collaborative groups focusing on natural resource issues, including at least 30 with an emphasis on forest resilience and wildfire risk mitigation. These groups have made significant achievements in the past two decades. They also face many challenges and barriers to success. Despite their clear value and the need to bolster their work, there is no statewide organization, such as in other western states, that specifically seeks to support and represent these collaboratives.

We reviewed background material and existing networks and programs that support forest collaboratives in Colorado and other states, and we conducted 33 interviews with collaborative leaders and agency representatives who work with collaboratives and networks across the west to understand the need and appetite for a network of place-based forest collaboratives in Colorado. We found that networks of collaborative groups have proven their value in other states. A network could address many of the limitations and challenges facing collaboratives and agencies in Colorado. It would give collaboratives a collective, statewide voice. It would be a hub for agencies and the state to connect locally.

This assessment indicates a clear need and strong interest in a network of forest collaboratives in Colorado. We also heard concerns about competition for time and resources, and any new effort must carefully incorporate existing networks, efforts, and relationships to complement existing work and avoid duplication. This report briefly describes existing groups that work in this space and how they focus their efforts.

Read the full report here. If you have thoughts on this report to share with us, or you want us to stay in touch with you as we grow support for forest collaboratives, let us know conserve@colostate.edu.