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Wildland Fire Leadership Council Meetings

Leadership Summit on Collaboration
Albuquerque, New Mexico
February 14-15, 2005


The Leadership Summit on Collaboration focused national leaders in natural resource management on increasing state-level collaboration in restoring healthy forests and grasslands and protecting communities.

National and regional leaders from the Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Bureau of Indian Affairs, along with state leaders and conservationists and other key stakeholders attended; more than 130 people participated.

The intent of this summit was to share and explore successes, challenges, and recommendations for improvement to the collaboration process at all levels of land management.

The Summit began with collaboration success stories from Idaho and Arizona, and was followed by two breakout sessions where successes, challenges, and goals for state-level collaboration were discussed. Key points from these activities are summarized below.


Although there are many success stories related to collaboration at the state level, two major initiatives were presented as case studies -- the Idaho State Fire Plan Working Group and the Arizona Forest Health Advisory Council.

The Idaho State Fire Plan Working Group, consisting of representatives from all 14 organizations and agencies responsible for implementation of the National Fire Plan in Idaho, collaborates to prioritize funding for hazardous fuels projects, promote fire prevention and education, and boost fire district capability.

The Arizona Forest Health Advisory Council has developed guiding principles for the design and implementation of restoration-based fuels reduction and forest health restoration projects. The council monitors and evaluates results of restoration projects, identifies new strategies and opportunities for demonstrating restoration-based fuels reduction techniques, and evaluates existing and potential sustainable economic uses for small-diameter trees.


Desired Outcomes of State-Level Collaboration:

  • Efficiency in prioritization and decision-making, leading to quicker, more effective on-the-ground accomplishments
  • Better project prioritization involving more stakeholders
  • Enhanced public education about fire management and fuels reduction and greater understanding of fuels programs
  • Expanded programs through public education about success stories in other communities, leading to more communities protected
  • Ability to implement decisions and analyze impacts across jurisdictions
  • Improved long-term forest and rangeland health through self-sustaining projects
  • Enhanced accountability for outcomes

Keys to Success:

  • Strong leaders committed to outcomes (e.g. governor, legislature, local government and non-governmental interests)
  • Central permanent employee who coordinates and facilitates the effort within the state (example: Idaho)
  • All parties understand the objective and goals, and operate under an agreed-upon set of principles -- build trust
  • Participant inclusion -- ensure that all stakeholders are invited to the table
  • Use collaboration as a vehicle for planning, setting priorities, identifying barriers, making recommendations
  • Incorporate collaboration into core job responsibilities and consider possible rewards and/or incentives for collaboration
  • Adequate resource allocation (human and financial resources)

Challenges to Collaboration:

  • Maintaining continuity among participants at all levels
  • Lack of coordinated information sharing
  • Different definitions, goals, and responsibilities among collaborators
  • Long, drawn-out and/or bureaucratic processes lead to fewer participants and less action
  • Resistance to change, turf battles
  • Difficult to measure results of collaboration, therefore no strong business case to support it
  • Funding, time, and competing demands on personnel
  • Limited development of skill sets that support collaboration
  • Process can be undone or drawn out indefinitely by litigation

Measures of Success:

  • Degree of public support (conversely, number of complaints, amount of litigation)
  • Level of participation and diversity of participants
  • Long-term, enduring process/vehicle (vs. being crisis-driven)
  • Project-level accomplishments on the ground
  • Protection of values at risk beyond fire
  • Sustainable communities

The group breakout sessions were followed by focused sessions tailored to specific regions. A summary of the outcomes of those sessions is included in the document, Leadership Summit - Regional Breakout Summary.

Summit Follow-up

We strongly encourage Summit participants to revisit their short-term plans with state-level stakeholders. Please keep us informed of your progress.

The Western Governors' Association is sponsoring a series of sub-regional collaborative workshops in cooperation with the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service and other sponsors. The next event, "Workshop on State-Level Forest Health Collaboration," is scheduled May 19-20 in Casper, Wyoming, for the central Rockies states of Colorado, South Dakota, and Wyoming. The workshops are designed to continue the dialogue on forest health collaboration and to further the short-term plans derived from the Leadership Summit.