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Respect the River/Rio — Resource Managers


A volunteer Contact Ranger talking to forest visitors playing in the Rio GuadalupeEstablishing a partnership enhances efficiency and effectiveness, provides integrated solutions, allows multiple actors to move toward compromise and win-win situations, and opens decision-making processes. Our strong partnerships are those in which we work collaboratively to restore streams and educate recreationists. For more detailed information about partnerships, please see the US Forest Service's May 2005 Partnership Guide as a reference.

Components of a partnership:

  • A written agreement between the parties
  • Mutual interests, benefits, or goals
  • Appropriate legal authority
  • Voluntary participation
  • Consistency with agency plans, policies, and priorities
  • Evident public benefit
  • Realistic timeframe

Development of a formal partnership may be facilitated through the use of a "walk through" document developed for training purposes. A PDF version of "How To Get Started" is available for viewing.

Partnership does not need to mean that a group gives funding to the program. A key point is that as a federal agency, we can ask organizations if they would like to challenge us to accomplish an objective, but we can not directly ask them for funding.

Ways to Partner:

  • Project development and grant recruitment
  • Volunteer recruitment
  • Education and outreach
  • Restoration
  • Service learning

Nonprofit groups are eligible for a larger range of grants than are federal agencies. If a nonprofit identifies a restoration or educational goal on public land, they can submit grants for that work to be done cooperatively.

Project development and grant recruitment:

  • Identify projects with benefits for all partners
  • Assist with identifying funding sources
  • Assist with grant writing
  • Serve as administrator for grants
  • Challenge the Forest Service to share costs of a project

Volunteers are hugely important, both for the work they accomplish and the in-kind match they provide for grant applications. For example, a campsite steward program is one in which volunteers "adopt" a restored area and monitor its restoration progress. Contact rangers visit with campers and discuss how their actions can degrade or protect riparian ecosystems. Some give out backpacking trowels for human waste disposal.

Volunteer Recruitment:

  • Involvement in restoration projects
  • Campsite stewards
  • Education outreach and contact rangers

If a group wants to take on the restoration of a particular area, they can get a lot of work accomplished. It is just important to stress that the land manager would be closely involved in the restoration design and implementation, and that there may be environmental analysis necessary before work can begin.


  • Trail building
  • Meadow rehabilitation
  • Weed eradication
  • Planting native plants
  • Erosion control structures
  • Fence building
  • Site redesign

Respect the River and Respect the Rio are eager for their message to be consistent on other public lands, and they encourage other agencies or groups to talk with program managers about how Respect the River and Respect the Rio materials could be used elsewhere.

Education and Outreach:

  • Distribution of Respect the River and Respect the Rio materials
  • Dissemination of Respect the River and Respect the Rio stewardship message
  • Web site links

Much of the work we do could be accomplished by students or classes. Students in the 4–H Forestry program worked with the Wenatchee River Ranger District to inventory dispersed campsites along the White River. Students at Central Washington University are working with the Cle Elum Ranger District to map the riparian area of the Cle Elum River.

Service-learning opportunities:

  • Campsite inventories
  • Monitoring
  • Restoration work
  • Camper contacts

Below is an example of a program made highly successful through partnerships:

Cle Elum Ranger District Anti-Mudding Initiative

At the start of the Anti-Mudding Initiative, the Cle Elum Ranger District recognized that the problem could not be tackled effectively by the Forest Service working alone. The District sought out community partners who could complement its efforts. A ban on mudding around local reservoirs was implemented and enforced with extra patrols by Sheriff's deputies and reserve officers, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officers, Forest Protection Officers, Cle Elum Ranger District staff who signed up for weekend and evening patrol duty, and a broad spectrum of citizen volunteers. The Kittitas County Sheriff's Department promoted a "Give us the Dirt on Mudders" message, and an OHV Ranger Hotline was set up where citizens could report mudding violations.

With enforcement efforts well under way, the Cle Elum Ranger District launched a broad anti-mudding educational campaign, with the intent of making mudding a socially unacceptable practice in Kittitas County. The Ranger District sponsored four public meetings, and reached out to local governments, chambers of commerce, local organizations, and the press, to help disseminate our message and to distribute posters and a brochure we had published. At the same time, District Respect the River activities were expanded, showcasing the ecological value of riparian forest and meadows, the impacts of mudding, and local restoration activities.

In autumn of 2002, a seven-minute video entitled "Your Backyard" was completed and disseminated across the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests, other Regions, and the web. It features young citizens' perspectives on mudding and targets a teenaged and young adult audience. It also features members of the Pacific Northwest Four Wheel Drive Association (PNW4WD), who encourage responsible operation of four-wheel drive vehicles. The cooperation of PNW4WD was crucial to the efficacy of the video. With their involvement, we were able to clearly distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate use of off-highway vehicles.

The "Your Backyard" video can be viewed on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests website.

Links to Check Out:

Please contact us directly if you have any questions.

U.S. Forest Service
Last modified: April 12, 2012

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