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Partnerships Toolbox

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Partnerships Toolbox

  • A Partnership is a voluntary arrangement between the Forest Service and others to accomplish objectives that are beneficial to all of the partners.

    This Toolbox is part of a process to improve our partnership program and make it consistent across the Forest Service.

    Dave McEldery, Plains/Thompson Falls RD, Lolo NF, plays the bagpipes for Passport In Time Volunteers at the Bend Guard Station.

    Photo by C. Milo McLeod, Lolo Archeologist.

    Forest: Lolo
    District: Thompson Falls
    Region: 1

    What is a Partnership?

    Why Form a Partnership?


    Who Can I Partner With?

    The Guidebook On Partnerships

    Partnership Rules

    Ways To Enter Into Partnerships

    What Is the Timeframe for Entering Into a Partnership?

    Examples of Current Partnerships


    Related Toolboxes


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  • Ellensburg Partnership Facility

    A partnership is a voluntary arrangement between the Forest Service and others to accomplish objectives that are beneficial to all of the partners. These objectives must be consistent with the agency's mission and serve the public interest.

    A 1994 review of the National Forest System's partnership program outlined a need to "develop uniform standards, streamline procedures, and draft umbrella agreements" for partnerships. This toolbox is part of a process to improve our partnership program and make it consistent across the Forest Service.

    Another stage in this process occurred in 2003, when the Forest Service joined with the National Forest Foundation to create the online Partnership Resource Center. The purpose of this web site is to provide Forest Service staff and partnering organizations with the information and access they need for enhanced working relationships. While this site is not focused on shared facilities partnerships, it does contain a wetitleh of general information on partnerships, including tools, templates, and guide books.

  • Partnerships can reduce costs and improve customer service. They can save money through the sharing of facilities, personnel, and office equipment. Partnerships can also be used for cooperative projects such as restoration or maintenance of historic facilities. They may also include services such as complete operation of a visitor's center. Examples of different kinds of partnerships are given at the end of this toolbox.

  • There are many different authorities that cover the various types of partnerships. These are covered in FSM 1580.11 - 1580.16 . See the on-line Partnership Guide for manual references.

  • The Bitterroot Supervisor Office has a partnership with the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.

    Partnerships may be formed with other federal agencies, state and local agencies, nonprofit organizations, interpretive associations, and the private sector.

    Web sites for many current or potential government agency and non-government partners are linked from the Find Partners page of the Partnership Resource Center web site.

  • The 2005 Partnership Guide is a 104 page guide book about partnerships produced by the National Forest Foundation. titlehough a few of the details are outdated, it may be handier for some purposes than the on-line Partnership Guide.

    The guide is a tool to help Forest Service employees, experienced partners, and first-time or potential partners work together more effectively and efficiently. The guide answers common questions about the agency’s policies and procedures, helps partnerships anticipate potential hurdles, and provides contacts and other resources to help users find more specific guidance. Finally, the guide highlights creative approaches taking place across the country that promote sustainable and vibrant forests, grasslands, and communities. Through partnerships like these, the agency is learning how to more successfully sustain the hetitleh, diversity, and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.


  • A partnership should include the following:

    • A written agreement between parties.

    • A mutually common objective that is related to the Forest Service mission.

    • Appropriate legal authority.

    • Voluntary participation.

    • Consistency with agency plans, policies, and priorities.

    • Evident public benefit.

    • A realistic timeframe.

    A partnership should not:

    • Establish a conflict of interest or appearance of conflict of interest.

    • Show preferential treatment of one entity over another.

    • Endorse commercial products, services, or entities.

    • Circumvent legal requirements in areas such as procurement, personnel, labor laws, printing, publishing, audiovisual production, and issuance of special use permits.

    • Be used to transfer federal funding to third parties for purposes that are not authorized for the Forest Service to do directly.

    • Market or promote any of the partners in any way, except in matters factually related to the partnership agreement.
  • There are a variety of agreement types that may be used to enter into a partnership. Intra-agency agreements may be used when partnering with other USDA agencies. Partnerships with other federal agencies may be spelled out with an interagency agreement. Agreements with other entities may include challenge cost share, joint venture, cost reimbursable, and participating agreements. Interagency and intra-agency agreements are covered in FSM 1585. Partnerships with interpretive associations are covered in Forest Service Manual. FSM 2390.

    The unit Grants and Agreements or Cooperative Programs staff will help you determine which agreement is appropriate and craft the agreement. Learn more about legal and administrative requirements at the Partnership Resource Center web site.

  • While these types of partnerships have all been used successfully, most of the people contacted for this toolbox said that it took about a year to bring the partnership to fruition.

  • Ellensburg Visitor Center

    The following are just a few representative examples of how partnerships can work:

    Ellensburg Visitor Center, Ellensburg, Washington, Wenatchee National Forest

    Contact: Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest

    The visitor center is located at the Ellensburg chamber of commerce building in downtown Ellensburg. It was established because the consolidation of two ranger districts left Ellensburg without a Forest Service presence. The center is operated and staffed by the Ellensburg chamber of commerce under a purchase agreement from the Cle Elum ranger district. The chamber sells maps, firewood permits, etc and provides other information as needed. A phone line to the district is provided so customers may get information from the district that the chamber of commerce cannot provide.

    Idaho Falls Visitor Center, Idaho Falls Idaho,Caribou-Targhee National Forest

    Contact: Caribou-Targhee National Forest Caribou-Targhee National Forest

    The visitor center is located at the Idaho Falls chamber of commerce building in downtown Idaho Falls. It was established to provide a presence in Idaho Falls because the ranger station is located out of town. The center is operated under a participating agreement with the Idaho Falls chamber of commerce and an interagency agreement with the BLM. Each of the three partners contributes personnel to staff the center. The Forest Service reimburses the chamber for use of the space and utilities.

    Outdoor recreation information center.

    Outdoor Recreation Information Center(ORIC), Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest

    Contact: Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest

    This visitor center is located in the REI store in downtown Seattle. It is a partnership between the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest, the National Park Service, and the Northwest Interpretive Association. The ORIC was originally located in the Federal Building in downtown Seattle as a partnership with the National Park Service. Because of the high cost of rent and the limited hours at the original location, the ORIC was relocated to the REI building. The REI building is ideally suited for the ORIC because of its customer base, extended hours and free parking. The space in the REI building is leased to the Forest Service for a nominal amount each year. Staffing of the center is shared between the Forest Service and Park Service.

    Shared Facilities, Forest Service/BLM, Salmon - Challis National Forest

    The Forest Service currently leases a facility in Salmon, Idaho. An agreement was reached with the owner of the facility and BLM to expand the building. Once the expansion is complete, the BLM will collocate with the Forest Service.

  • Storefront Toolbox
    Storefront Facility
    Collocation Toolbox
    Collocation Facility
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