What is Shared Stewardship?

Shared stewardship is changing the way we think about wildfire management, forest and watershed protection, drought control, and the ongoing battle with disease and pest outbreaks. Instead of focusing on small, individual projects working with limited partners or agencies, shared stewardship encourages organizations to join forces and work across state, county or jurisdictional lines to protect large forest landscapes and watersheds. American Forests is helping promote and implement shared stewardship in projects across the United States, working with partners such as the U.S. Forest Service, local and state leaders and a host of private-sector stakeholders.

Advancing Shared Stewardship in Colorado

As in all western states, Colorado’s forest landscapes and watersheds face increasing challenges. Overly dense forests, fire suppression, widespread insect and disease impacts, population growth and climate change all increase wildfire risk and impact forest health and recreation opportunities.

A Shared Stewardship agreement was formalized in Colorado in 2019 when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (which includes the U.S. Forest Service) and the State of Colorado established a Shared Stewardship framework for all lands in the state. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) focuses on managing Colorado’s forests for ecological restoration, recreation, protecting water resources and infrastructure, conserving fish and wildlife, engaging diverse stakeholders, and promoting healthy and safe communities.

American Forests has been helping leaders in state and federal agencies identify shared stewardship opportunities and develop a 10-year work plan for restoring and protecting watersheds and reducing wildfire risks.

Shared Stewardship in California – the California Reforestation Strategy

As part of the California Wildfire and Forest Resilience Action Plan, American Forests is the convener of the Reforestation Working Group. In this group, American Forests works with the U.S. Forest Service and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to develop a post-fire management and restoration strategy for private and public lands in the state.

This is the first shared stewardship-oriented plan for California, and it’s being completed alongside a 20-year wildfire risk reduction treatment long-range plan. American Forests’ scientific analysis is guiding this work by helping identify the best places for climate-informed forestry and restoration. This will help forests recover following large, intense wildfires.

The California Reforestation Strategy is a first-of-its-kind statewide reforestation plan, which other states are seeking to replicate.