Questions and Answers

  • The USDA Forest Service, states, tribes and communities in the West need to continue to coordinate very closely to address the threat of catastrophic wildlfire. We are working together to preposition fire protection resources while prioritizing the protection of the public and our fire fighters from these incidents.
  • Shared Stewardship seeks to change the trajectory of forested landscapes to create resiliency over time. These actively managed landscapes will be much less likely to fuel the conditions for catastrophic wildfires that permanently damage ecosystems and pose significant threat to lives and property.

 

  • Shared Stewardship is a way of doing business and approaching forest needs. A Shared Stewardship approach will support improvements in our forest landscapes and watershed health needs across the entire country. For example, insect and disease infestation can compromise forest health and create negative ecological and economic consequences.  Restoring habitat together for certain tree species to catalyze economic opportunities and improve wildlife habitat could also be an objective using a Shared Stewardship approach.
  • Shared stewardship can be used to address this and other non-wildfire related threats by:
    • Convening to define mutual goals and priorities areas across forest ownership boundaries;
    • Sharing USDA Forest Service decision space with states, counties, tribes and private entities;
    • Taking advantage of Forest Service scenario planning capacity and resources to help define the areas of greatest risk and opportunity; and
    • Supporting active management by non-federal partners, including across boundaries when appropriate, to address the issue at a scale that matters and demonstrates an outcome from the investments.

 

  • Shared Stewardship priorities are whatever the state and the Forest Service agree to. Those priorities can include water quality, recreation, and other priorities as well as fire mitigation or timber.
  • In several Southern states, the USDA Forest Service is collaborating with state foresters and America's Longleaf Restoration Initiative to restore longleaf pine ecosystems, one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the world.
  • In New England, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the USDA Forest Service are collaborating on sustainable forest management, forest land conservation, and economic development initiatives designed to conserve 361,941 acres identified as “high priority” due to the ecological benefits the area supports.

 

There are several Shared Stewardship agreements in development in Southern and Northeastern states, and we anticipate finalizing a number of these by the end of 2019. 

 

  • The USDA Forest Service is working more closely with state governor’s offices and agencies to determine land management needs at the state level. This requires shared decision-making around which areas to target for treatment, and what actions to take.
  • The USDA Forest Service, states, tribes and private land managers will continue to seek to do the right work in the right places at the right scale and prioritize landscape-scale stewardship actions that can produce significant outcomes at a larger, more impactful scale.
  • The Shared Stewardship approach builds on and updates previous science and incorporates new mapping and decision tools to focus treatments where they can do the most good across jurisdictional boundaries.
  • We are capitalizing on the new and updated authorities provided by Congress, including the new categorical exclusions, Good Neighbor Authorities that now allow for road maintenance and reconstruction, and longer 20-year stewardship contracting.
  • We are changing our internal processes to get more work done on the ground by improving the efficiency of our environmental analysis processes under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
  • We will increase the use of all available tools to collectively do more work on the ground, including mechanical treatments, prescribed fire, and managed wildfires.
  • We will emphasize a risk-based response to wildfire suppression based upon the probability of success. The USDA Forest Service neither expects nor allows firefighters to risk their lives while attempting the improbable.

 

  • In a Shared Stewardship approach, the USDA Forest Service seeks to share decision space with state and tribal foresters and other partners to determine land management needs at the state and tribal level. By setting priorities together, we can better focus our land management efforts across boundaries.
  • Working with our partners, the USDA Forest Service will emphasize doing the right work in the right places at the right scale. This approach will incorporate advanced science and new mapping and decision tools to focus treatments where they can do the most good across jurisdictional boundaries. Instead of random acts of restoration solely on federal lands, USDA Forest Service, states and others will work together to prioritize landscape-scale stewardship actions that can produce outcomes at a more impactful scale.
  • The USDA Forest Service is also working to improve its internal processes and structures to build a foundation that will support the Shared Stewardship approach for the long term.

 

  • The USDA Forest Service believes that Shared Stewardship at its core is about a way of doing business. Shared Stewardship is not another initiative or action item. Rather, it is the way to accomplish existing initiative and action items. It is about:
    • Setting mutual goals with state and tribal partners and other stakeholders,
    • Convening to reach shared decisions,
    • Working across boundaries, and
    • Seeking outcomes that improve forests, grasslands and watersheds at scale.
  • It also means the USDA Forest Service needs to change internally to work in this Shared Stewardship manner.

 

  • Shared Stewardship would not have been possible without the committed work of forest collaboratives over the last 20 years or so. These locally-driven efforts continue to demonstrate the effectiveness of collaboration, partnership, and local knowledge in pursuit of improving the health and resiliency of the nation’s forested landscapes.
  • Local forest collaboratives will provide the foundational information and platforms for action under Shared Stewardship. States and the USDA Forest Service will continue to rely on the assistance and information of collaborative efforts and will likely build off previously undertaken collaborative forest treatments as a starting point for larger treatments that have a bigger impact and help achieve greater results.
  • The increase in catastrophic wildfire and other challenges faced by forests and communities over the last two decades also demonstrate that states, tribes, communities and the USDA Forest Service need to actively manage our forests at a much larger scale to produce meaningful results on the ground.
  • We will look to collaboratives to help guide efforts to plan and undertake landscape-scale active management efforts. Coordinating local collaborative efforts with those of neighboring collaboratives would help the state and the USDA Forest Service understand where there are opportunities to work at scale and where communities and others will be ready to offer support.