On October 27th, more than 30 collaborative leaders and partners gathered in Frisco, Colorado for the annual Colorado Forest Collaboratives Summit. The Colorado Forest Collaboratives Network was inspired by successes at Annual Forest Collaboratives Summits, hosted in the past by various entities including the Colorado State Forest Service and JW Associates. When we held our four Regional Forums this past September, one of the most common recommendations we received was to continue hosting this annual gathering of forest collaboratives and their partners.
Here’s how we spent the day:
- We kicked off the day with a round robin, asking folks to share recent successes and accomplishments within their collaborative that have made them proud or excited. We heard inspiring stories of successful landowner outreach campaigns, strengthening partnerships, newly created collaboratives, innovative policy leveraging, and many more.
- Both Colorado State Forester Matt McCombs and Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Dan Gibbs planned to join us for a session with State leadership but, like many, were thwarted by a last minute and unexpected snowstorm. Graciously standing in for them, DNR’s Alison Lerch (Wildfire Mitigation Program Administrator, Colorado Strategic Wildfire Action Program) shared updates from the DNR, and conducted a listening session with the group around the question: “What would you like the DNR to know about forest collaboratives?” Alison promised to share what she heard with our State’s forest and wildfire leadership.
- After a break for lunch, Brett Wolk (Colorado Forest Restoration Institute; Forest Health Council member) and Aaron Kimple (Southwest Ecological Restoration Institutes; former member of the Colorado Forest Health Council) shared highlights from the Colorado Forest Health Council’s recently released annual report (available here). Larimer County Commissioner and Forest Health Council member Jody Shadduck-McNally, and DNR’s Angela Boag (Assistant Director for Climage, Forest Health, and Energy) were also meant to join this session, but were hung up by road closures and sickness. They managed to connect with us as the Summit began. Jody, Angela, Brett, and Aaron all shared their optimism that the FHC is positioned to be a valuable advisor to DNR and the Legislature, including on topics critical to forest collaboratives.
This is what participants had to say about this year’s Summit:
- “Great balance of pace and depth; great new people to network with.”
- “Excellent day of learning. Connecting with other collaboratives, thinking through stages, hearing creative solutions, were all highlights.”
- “Great opportunity to network with folks from different regions that I don’t typically get to talk to.”
- “Forest collaborative leaders showed up, engaged, and met one another with plenty of time for networking.”
Stay tuned to the Colorado Forest Collaboratives Network newsletter (sign up here) where, in the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing a more extensive overview of the Summit and more information about how the Network plans to use that information to build out our work plan for the next few years.
Our planning team was instrumental in creating an engaging day– much gratitude to Ch’aska, Maya, Brett, Laura, Scott, Esther, Becca, and Andrew. We also cannot thank our participants, speakers, and registrants enough – those who attended, as well as those waylaid by unexpected weather events – for the valuable time, energy, and ideas they shared in support of the Colorado Forest Collaboratives Network and this year’s Summit. Also, we are grateful for the financial supporters of the Colorado Forest Collaboratives Network who made the Summit possible: Mighty Arrow Family Foundation, Argosy Foundation, and Great Outdoors Colorado. Thank you!