Coordinating Shared Stewardship in Central Oregon
Increasing efficiency and effectiveness among conservation partners.
In May 2020, Deschutes National Forest staff approached the Central Oregon Forest Stewardship Foundation, seeking support to engage a diverse array of partners in developing a coordinated approach to engaging in Shared Stewardship across the region. Limited capacity and increased demands on federal and state partners challenge most agencies’ ability to expand their partnerships.
COFSF agreed to convene a diverse suite of current and potential partners to explore new ways of coordinating holistic restoration work across the Central Oregon landscape.
With funding from the State E-Board and subsequent support from Title II funding, COFSF and representatives from the Forest Service, the Oregon Department of Forestry, and the Natural Resources Conservation Service launched a working group series to bring conservation partners together to:
- Develop a framework for enhancing communication and information sharing,
- Build and strengthen relationships,
- Explore tools to increase efficiency and effectiveness, and
- Cultivate and learning network dedicated to continual improvement and shared learning.
“Shared Stewardship is about working together in an integrated way to make decisions and take actions on the land.”
— Vicki Christiansen, USDA Forest Service Chief
What is Shared Stewardship?
Shared Stewardship is an approach to restoration that engages partners in holistic, landscape-scale work in the right places at the right times. Shared Stewardship provides the framework to create “a shared vision of healthy and resilient forested ecosystems, vibrant local economies, healthy watersheds with functional aquatic habitat, and quality outdoor opportunities.” This approach often integrates multiple conservation issues, expands the suite of partners involved, works across jurisdictional boundaries, and consists in asking the question: “What additional opportunities for restoration might be addressed within this landscape?” To accomplish Shared Stewardship requires that partners work together to make decisions and take action.
Launching The Effort
COFSF hosted a series of 4 online workshops, Coordinating Shared Stewardship in Central Oregon, with the long-term goals of:
- Building and enhancing communication and connectivity among local conservation partners via sharing of missions, projects, and landscape restoration goals.
- Improving coordination and collaboration among local conservation partners.
- Identifying emerging opportunities for two long-standing regional forest collaboratives: the Deschutes Collaborative Forest Project and the Ochoco Forest Restoration Collaborative.
- Identifying and prioritizing shared restoration values and landscape priorities among local agencies.
- Attracting funding to support priority projects and utilize existing agreements/initiatives for strategic cross-boundary implementation.
“Shared Stewardship is an opportunity to put all the pieces of the restoration puzzle together. We will only accomplish holistic, landscape-scale restoration by working together in new, creative ways.”
— Vernita Ediger, Executive Director Central Oregon Forest Stewardship Foundation
Outcomes and Ongoing Work
The Central Oregon Shared Stewardship Framework
Our approach to Shared Stewardship in Central Oregon is grassroots, bottom-up efforts in contrast to examples from Utah and Idaho, where federal and state agencies work from the top-down. Our current (and evolving) vision is to cultivate a network of partners to prioritize restoration values across the Central Oregon landscape, enhance relationships, and share information in nimble, timely ways to support our members to coalesce around shared priorities. We will use our collective expertise and resources to support the planning, implementing, and monitoring of effective, efficient holistic restoration projects.
Using group input and examples from other regions, participants co-developed a framework for Coordinating Shared Stewardship in Central Oregon. While still in draft form, this framework calls out four critical areas for focus: Relationships, Restoration, Socio-cultural (People), and Process.
Examples of completed and ongoing work are excellent opportunities for shared learning. COFSF is collecting local and regional examples of Shared Stewardship Projects to create a database for shared use.
All are welcome to provide examples of Shared Stewardship projects. Contact COFSF staff for assistance. Either share an existing one- to two-page document or complete this template. We appreciate your additions to this growing list of examples that will serve as a tool for the group.
A directory of those who participated in the Coordinating Shared Stewardship in Central Oregon workshop series is available to those in the network. Volunteers in the network will expand this directory to include additional information regarding organizational priorities, capacities, and resources. This capacity matrix will continue to be refined and updated, enhancing coordination and information sharing among members.
Participants have organized into four working groups, focusing on critical elements of the draft Shared Stewardship Framework. These groups focused on:
- Shared Decision-making and Governance
- Mapping Shared Restoration Priorities on the Landscape
- Mapping Diverse Human Values on the Landscape, and
- Effective and Durable Communication
Working groups are designing the methods and approaches needed to engage the entire membership in undertaking these efforts.
Shared Stewardship Field Trips
Shared Stewardship partners are coordinating a series of summer field trips to local examples of Shared Stewardship projects. The field trips include completed and ongoing work as well as exploratory trips to engage partners in discussions about project planning.
COFSF organized the field trips to include diverse perspectives and discuss holist restoration—while focusing on learning, exploration, and adaptive management. Members are encouraged to reflect on questions including:
- What were each partner’s roles and responsibilities?
- What worked well on this project and why? What was a challenge, and why?
- How did partners distribute resources?
- How did partners use their respective expertise and other capacities in this project?
- How did they communicate and track shared success through this project?
- Were there missed opportunities that we can learn from? If so, what are those lessons?
- Were there particular successes? If so, what are those lessons?
At the conclusion of 2021’s E-Board funded projects, the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Central Oregon District publised a collection of case studies to illustrate the narrative of implementing Shared Stewardship across our region.
Coordinating Shared Stewardship in Central Oregon
* The next workshop meeting is scheduled for November 16, 2021, after the summer’s busy field season. In the meantime, partners are encouraged to use the Microsoft Teams communication platform to stay in touch or contact COFSF staff for more information.
Additional Shared Stewardship Resources
Central Oregon Forest Stewardship Foundation (COFSF)
Bend, OR 97701
The Central Oregon Forest Stewardship Foundation (COFSF) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, donations to the COFSF are tax-exempt, and the COFSF complies with all 501(c)(3) rules and regulations. Tax ID: 27-2703426.