For more than a century, partnerships have been at the heart of state forestry agencies’ work to conserve and protect our nation’s forests.
State and private forests make up sixty-six percent – over 520 million acres – of the forested acreage in the United States. State forestry agencies in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and eight U.S. territories work hand-in-hand with private landowners to manage and protect these forests. The federal government is directly responsible for the remaining third held in public trust.
Jurisdictional boundaries between state, private, and federal forests are hard to miss on a map – but for forest pests, disease, and wildfire – those boundaries that are so clear to us, simply don’t exist. Pests and unwanted fire move freely between forest types, to and from different ownerships, up and down watersheds, and under the right conditions, travel tremendous distances, leaving millions of dead and compromised trees in their wake every year.
This is why forest managers need cross-boundary partnerships: to mitigate boundaryless threats. These partnerships aren’t easy – in fact, they can be quite difficult to forge, maintain, and repair – but we know, after many decades of incremental progress and set-backs, they’re the only way we can protect and conserve America’s forests and trees.
State forestry agencies can help achieve greater outcomes on all lands for all Americans with shared decision-making and priority-setting.
And with Forest Action Plans at the foundation of shared decision-making and priority-setting for the management of America’s forests,
- Limited resources can be shared and used more efficiently for greater effect.
- No one forest type, state or region, management priority, or ownership will receive more or less than its fair share of resources.
- State foresters will be equal partners in the continuous improvement of federally supported programs and the development of widely applicable and shareable tools and strategies for forest and wildland fire management.
- Federal agencies will recognize and respect the many differences among states and grant them maximum discretion and flexibility as they formulate their individual responses to the “invitation of shared stewardship.”
Since the USDA Forest Service released its Shared Stewardship Strategy in August 2018, several states have entered into shared stewardship agreements (the full text of each agreement is linked at the bottom of this page):
In September 2019, the Arkansas Department of Agriculture (Arkansas Forestry Commission) and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission entered into a shared stewardship agreement with the USDA Forest Service and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
In October 2019, Colorado Governor Polis and the USDA Forest Service entered into a shared stewardship agreement at a ceremony held at the state capitol. Under the agreement, the State of Colorado and USDA Forest Service will focus on priority, landscape-scale forest and grassland restoration activities that protect at-risk communities and watersheds across all lands.
In November 2019, on behalf of the State of Georgia, Governor Brian Kemp signed a Shared Stewardship agreement with the USDA Forest Service and the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
The Idaho Department of Lands signed a shared stewardship agreement in December 2018 and identified several project areas to exercise shared stewardship principles and reduce wildfire risk. To learn more about Idaho’s shared stewardship program, click here.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the USDA Forest Service signed a Shared Stewardship Framework in November 2019 under which they will partner with each other, local governments, and other stakeholders to advance the goals of the Mohawk Trail Woodlands Partnership.
In April 2019, the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation agreed to work with the USDA Forest Service to advance the objectives of the USDA Shared Stewardship Strategy and Governor Bullock’s Forest in Focus 2.0 Initiative. Governor Bullock also created a Forest Action Advisory Council with an executive order in May 2019 to oversee the state’s Forest Action Plan 10-year revision, which will serve as a planning document for shared stewardship.
In November 2019, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak, the USDA Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finalized a landmark agreement that calls on state and federal agencies to increase their collaborative efforts to reduce the risk and impacts of catastrophic wildfire.
In November 2019, the chief of the USDA Forest Service and New Mexico’s governor signed a shared stewardship agreement aimed at strengthening relations as they work to represent diverse interests concerning natural resources on public forest lands.
In September 2019, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (NC Forest Service) and the USDA Forest Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service entered into a shared stewardship agreement.
The Oregon Department of Forestry entered into a shared stewardship agreement in August 2019.
The Utah Department of Natural Resources entered into a shared stewardship agreement in May 2019. In July 2019, Utah Governor Herbert announced up to $20 million over the next four years will go to shared stewardship projects.
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources entered into a shared stewardship agreement in May 2019.