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White River National Forest

Building Bridges Project

Martha Ketelle (center), the White River Forest Supervisor, “built bridges” with local community partners.

In the Blue River Watershed in Colorado, local elected officials, community leaders, and Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service land managers were all feeling the effects of demands on the land from dramatically increasing populations of residents, second-home owners, and visitors. In recognition of their mutual interests in the watershed, local governments and citizens joined with Federal land management agencies to start the Building Bridges Project, with the goal of collaborative land use planning and management. The project involves two counties, six towns, multiple nonprofit organizations, three Forest Service Ranger Districts on the White River National Forest, the Bureau of Land Management, the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments, and Colorado State University. Together, these groups strive to improve communication, establish partnerships, identify shared goals, and encourage local leadership to work with the national forest. To date, the Building Bridges Project has led to grassroots collaboration with the Forest Service in river restoration, wildfire mitigation and forest health planning, and recreation trail development fundraising in the Blue River watershed (NWC 2005).