Pattern 1. Community involvement in the objective-setting, design and interpretation phases: Burn Canyon Monitoring Working Group
In the late summer of 2002, a wildfire swept through the foothills of the southern Rocky Mountains in western Colorado, scorching over 50,000 acres of oak and ponderosa pine woodlands. In hopes of providing some economic benefit from this event, the Forest Service scheduled a salvage timber sale on a portion of the burned area. Regional environmental groups objected, but PLP saw the sale as an opportunity to advance their goals of improving local livelihoods while restoring the health of the forest. PLP facilitated a dialogue among community members and concerned environmental groups, and the environmentalists eventually agreed not to appeal the salvage sale if monitoring were implemented to discover whether the logging was harmful, helpful, or benign in its ecological impacts. PLP invited scientists nominated by diverse interests within the group to help clarify the group’s monitoring objectives, identify appropriate indicators, and craft a monitoring protocol the group could implement on its own. A wide range of local interests and citizens participated in the discussions about monitoring objectives and design. The final design was largely based on the experience of an environmentalist who was a retired Forest Service employee, but incorporated recommendations of one of the invited scientists. The same environmentalist volunteered to collect the field data and PLP provided this individual with a small amount of funding to cover fieldwork costs for 3 years. The data were analyzed by a university researcher contracted as a 3rd party consultant. The researcher presented the preliminary and final data analysis at several meetings of the monitoring working group, and the group discussed their interpretation of the data and planned to present their findings to a broader community meeting. The PLP hopes to apply its learning from this project to other community-based monitoring projects in the area. Other examples of this pattern include PLP’s Uncompahgre Plateau Project and WR’s Buck Stewardship Project.
Pattern 2. Community involvement in data collection: WR Lynx Survey
Lands on the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest were identified as potential habitat for the Canadian lynx. The US Forest Service needed to conduct surveys on lynx occupation and use of these areas, but lacked sufficient staff and resources to carry out the surveys. WR arranged to hire and train local residents, including out-of-work loggers and mill workers, to conduct the lynx surveys for the Forest Service using USFS protocols. Local surveyors were hired, trained and conducted the surveys, and were monitored for quality control by an external evaluator designated by the USFS. In this example, local community members were involved only in the data collection and the objectives, design, analysis and interpretation were determined by the agency. Other examples of this pattern include WR’s eagle and grouse surveys, and the WRTC ecosystem stewardship training program. Some of these projects involved training local people to work as paid contractors for agencies or the CBF organization, while others involved groups of citizen volunteers or school groups gathering data.
Pattern 3. Community involvement throughout the monitoring process: WRTC Post Mountain Stewardship Collaborative
Post Mountain is a small community of homeowners located on the edge of the town of Hayfork, California, in which private property is intermingled with and surrounded by US Forest Service land. The WRTC facilitated a community-based multiparty process to plan and monitor a proposed thinning project in this wildland urban interface zone. Participants included WRTC staff, US Forest Service, the volunteer fire chief, environmentalists, a registered forester, and residents of Post Mountain. This diverse group worked together on all phases of the monitoring project, from developing a conceptual model of their situation, to identifying objectives, designing and carrying out monitoring in the field. Data analysis likely will be conducted by WRTC staff, but the Post Mountain Stewardship Group will be involved in data interpretation, communication and application. This project is an example of multiparty community involvement at virtually every stage of monitoring (with the exception of data analysis). WR’s Upper Joseph Creek Watershed Assessment is another example of this pattern, where community members were involved in every phase, including data analysis for some parts of the assessment.