In our final Spotlight on SCALE, I’m going to focus on the future of the project following the outcomes of the workshop last week. The SCALE project is designed to be responsive to the needs of the collaborative groups that we work with, so the input we received at the workshop is very important for guiding our future efforts.
Based on what was discussed, one of the next steps for SCALE will be to follow up on tools for implementing forest restoration projects across ownership boundaries. During the workshop, we held a session to introduce several tools and authorities that can be used so that different types of groups (agencies, organizations or businesses) can do restoration projects on different types of land (such as Forest Service or private land). These initial conversations made it clear that more time needs to be spent with each of these tools. Other topics of interest during the workshop included an innovative mechanism to bring in payments from beneficiaries (e.g., water agencies, utilities) to support forest restoration, sustaining momentum in collaboratives particularly during transition periods, and addressing the NEPA/CEQA processes that can slow down project implementation.
Another next step is for SCALE to enhance its collaborative network. There were many representatives from collaboratives at this workshop that have not participated in previous workshops, as well as some attendees who are interested in starting a new collaboratives in their areas. Many of these groups are still in their early stages, and we plan to engage these new groups and provide the support that they need. There is a lot that can be learned from some of the long-standing collaboratives in the state, and one of the main tasks for SCALE will be to help share this information through our website, newsletters, webinars and other formats as appropriate. And, making connections between groups so lessons can be shared directly, peer-to-peer.
Finally, following the meeting, SCALE hopes to continue the conversation around developing new partnerships for forest restoration in California. Of particular interest is partnering with water-related groups, such as water agencies and Integrated Resource and Water Management (IRWM) collaboratives, since healthy forests equal healthy watersheds.
Written by Lauren Burton for Project Spotlight SCALE.