The Central Oregon Shared Stewardship Alliance
The Origins of the Central Oregon Shared Stewardship Alliance (COSSA)
In May 2020, Kristen McBride, then the Natural Resource Officer on the Deschutes National Forest, approached Central Oregon Forest Stewardship Foundation (COFSF), 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 beyond those with whom they traditionally work. Seeking a creative solution to overcome this difficulty, McBride sought support from COFSF, which has a long history of supporting innovation as well as effective collaborative work.
Ryan Miller, then Oregon Department of Forestry’s collaborative liaison in Central Oregon, quickly supported this effort, and with his support funding was secured from the State EBoard for the initiative. The EBoard funding created a match for federal Title II dollars, and with a small starting budget, COFSF convened a diverse suite of current and potential partners to explore new ways of coordinating holistic restoration work across the Central Oregon landscape.
A planning team consisting of COFSF staff as well as members of the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF), and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) began developing a series of workshops and reaching out to a broad array of land management agencies and nonprofits engaged in on-the-ground conservation work, and collaborative groups. Participants explored the interest and viability of creating a Shared Stewardship group in Central Oregon, with broad goals of mutually identifying priority restoration projects, and increasing our collective capacity to coalesce multi-jurisdictional, integrated restoration projects.
Over a series of five workshops, the Central Oregon Shared Stewardship Alliance (COSSA) emerged. The group developed a framework for enhancing communication and information sharing, strengthening and expanding relationships, identifying tools and approaches for more effective communication and resource-sharing, and collectively increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of implementing holistic restoration projects.
COSSA is based on four pillars of success outlined in this framework:
Governance, decision making, communication and resource sharing
Increasing the pace, scale, and quality of restoration efforts in Central Oregon
Mapping and sharing priorities for forest restoration
Addressing the human dimensions of natural resource management
Our 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. The result will not only be an increase in the quality, pace, and scale of forest restoration–but also an increase in the quality of our relationships and our community.
For a sample of the difference COSSA is making in Central Oregon, check out the case studies published by the Oregon Department of Forestry’s Central Oregon District at the conclusion of 2021’s E-Board funded projects.