Quick Guides

Introduction to Community-Owned Forests (April 2008)

Federal Resources for Supporting Urban Forestry (October 2002)

Wildfire management and Forest county payments (August 2001)

Community Field Tours (December 2000)

Understanding the Federal Budget Process (March 2000)

Media Strategies for Community Practitioners (February 2000)

The Federal Appropriations Process (January 1999)


Acquiring and Managing a Community-Owned Forest: A Manual for Communities
This manual provides a guide for communities interested in establishing a community‐owned forest, whether just beginning to think about a project or re‐engaging community residents around land already in community ownership. Creating and managing a community‐owned forest requires the collaborative development of a community vision and mission for the forest, a commitment to sharing in the costs and benefits of that forest, and the crafting of a governance and operational structure that ensures consistent, long‐term management for forest resiliency and sustainability. Our manual includes step-by-step advice on getting started, engaging the broader community, financing acquisition, and long-term management and stewardship, as well as an extensive, annotated list of additional resources.

Preparing a Community Wildfire Protection Plan: A Handbook for Wildland-Urban Interface Communities
The idea for community-based forest planning and prioritization is neither novel nor new. However, the incentive for communities to engage in comprehensive forest planning and prioritization was given new and unprecedented impetus with the enactment of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA) in 2003.

This landmark legislation includes the first meaningful statutory incentives for the US Forest Service (USFS) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to give consideration to the priorities of local communities as they develop and implement forest management and hazardous fuel reduction projects.

In order for a community to take full advantage of this new opportunity, it must first prepare a Community Wildfire Protection Plan (CWPP). Local wildfire protection plans can take a variety of forms, based on the needs of the people involved in their development. Community Wildfire Protection Plans may address issues such as wildfire response, hazard mitigation, community preparedness, or structure protection—or all of the above.

Download Preparing a Community Wildfire Protection Plan: A Handbook for Wildland–Urban
Download the Community Guide to Preparing and Implementing a Community Wildfire Protection Plan, a supplemental resource guide to the handbook.

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Papers & Reports
Community-based Forestry Survey
The Communities Committee, with assistance from American Forests, developed and completed a study of community-based forestry (CBF) in the United States. We conducted the study in two parts: a qualitative telephone survey of various leaders and long-time participants in CBF; and a quantitative internet-based survey that sought responses from a larger and more diverse set of participants:
Part I | Part II

Communities Committee position paper on civic science.

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Volume 10, Number 1 (Winter 2006)
Features: Urban and Community Forestry at Work: The Vermont Town Forest Project

Volume 9, Number 2 (Fall 2005)
Features: Embarking on New Territory: The Community-Owned Forests Conference

Volume 9, Number 1 (Spring 2005)
Features: Communities Respond to Changes in Timberland Ownership
Case Study: Creating a Community Forest in Errol, N.H.

Volume 8, Number 3 (Fall 2004)
Features: Criteria and Indicators: Finding Meaning for Communities

Volume 8, Number 2 (Summer 2004)
Features: Burning Backyards: A Radical Conservation Ethic Rises in Flagstaff

Volume 8, Number 1 (Winter 2004)
Features: Healthy Forests Restoration Act: A Community-based Perspective
Profile: Sam Burns, Ph.D.

Volume 7, Number 1 (Spring 2003)
Features: The state of community forestry, plus national organizations insert
Profile: Carol Daly

Volume 6, Number 4 (Winter 2002/2003)
Features: Focus on Appalachia
Profile: Michael Goergen

Volume 6, Number 3 (Fall 2002)
Features: Woodberry Woods, Media Field Tour, Stewardship contracting
Profile: Ann Ingerson

Volume 6, Number 2 (Summer 2002)
Features: Financing forestry, Private land and landowners, Landowner cooperatives
Profile: Gerry Gray

Volume 6, Number 1 (Spring 2002)
Features: Stewardship blocks, Economic Action Programs, Certification
Profile: Jonathan Kusel

Volume 5, Number 4 (Winter 2001/2002)
Featires: Community, Culture and Forest Restoration, Greening Urban infrastructure
Profile: Alice Ewen Walker

Volume 5, Number 3 (Fall 2001)
Features: Regional land ethic, Local needs for fire planning and funding
Profile: Rock Termini

Volume 5, Number 2 (Summer 2001)
Focus on the Southwest: Earning a living from restoration, Forestry in Los Angeles
Profile: Eleanor Torres

Volume 5, Number 1 (Spring 2001)
Focus on the Lake States: Detroit block clubs, Smart growth, WUPFID, Local indicators
Profile: Wendy Hinrichs Sanders

Volume 4, Number 4 (Winter 2000-2001)
Focus on the Southeast: landowner cooperatives, urban forestry
Profile: Rodney Stone

Volume 4, Number 3 (Fall 2000)
Focus on national policy: fire, county payments, roadless areas
Profile: Maia Enzer

Volume 4, Number 2 (Summer 2000)
Focus on the Northeast: New York City Watershed, urban forestry in Baltimore
Profile: Erika Svendsen

Volume 4, Number 1 (Spring 2000)
Focus on Indian forestry: Indian perspectives on ecosystem management,
Maidu pilot project, cooperative agreements between tribes and federal agencies
Profile: Marshall Pecore

Volume 3, Number 4 (Winter 1999-2000)
Features: urban non-timber forest products, Congressional field tours
Profile: Jim Beil

Volume 3, Number 3 (Fall 1999)
Focus on the Northwest: ecosystem restoration, all-party monitoring
Profile: Rebecca McLain

Volume 3, Number 2 (Summer 1999)
Feature: the Clinch Valley Forest Bank
Profile: Greg Aplet

Volume 3, Number 1 (Spring 1999)
Features: national appropriations training week, auctioning New York's community gardens, forest certification
Profile: Genevieve Cross

Volume 2, Number 4 (Fall 1998)
Features: collaborative stewardship, migrant forest workers
Profile: Tamara Walkingstick

Volume 2, Number 3 (Summer 1998)
Feature: community forestry abroad
Profile: Tom Parker

Volume 2, Number 2 (Spring 1998)
Feature: special forest products hearing
Profile: Bryant Smith

Volume 2, Number 1 (Winter 1998)
Feature: stewardship contracting
Profile: Steve Blackmer

Volume 1, Number 1 (Fall 1997)
Feature: national listening sessions
Profile: Rosemary Romero

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Case Studies
One of the first projects undertaken by the Communities Committee was a series of case studies that representthe diversity of community forestry efforts in the United States, explore factors leading to successful community forestry, and illustrate the challenges these efforts face. The case studies, along with an introduction and conclusion by Jonathan Kusel, are available from the Sierra Institute for Community and Environment, at
JKusel@SierraInstitute.us or 530-284-1022.  The case studies are summarized below.

Aitken County Land Department, Minnesota

Spurred by a major midwestern furniture manufacturer's 1996 announcement that it planned to shift its timber supply to certified forests only, the Aitken County Land Department began investigating forest certification and its implications for long-term management of County forestlands. One year later, all County forests were Smartwood certified. This case study describes the process the county went through, its results, and the hopes of various players in the logging and secondary forest products industry affected by the certification and forest management.

Applegate Partnership, Oregon
Recognizing that they needed to work together to develop a strategy that would protect the local environment through local economic development, local loggers, ranchers, environmentalists, agency employees, and industry representatives developed the Applegate Partnership in the early 1990s. Its guiding principle is to be "ecologically creditable, aesthetically acceptable, and economically viable." The Partnership has survived industrial barriers and social challenges for several years, largely because of its commitment to dialogue and collaborative efforts. Among its successes are a timber sale that met all participants' environmental and economic concerns, riparian restoration projects, and a community newspaper.

Catron County, New Mexico
Catron County gained notoriety in the mid-1990s for leading the county supremacy movement, blocking federal agency staffers' access to federal lands, and running environmentalists out of the county. By 2000, however, the Catron County Citizens Group had begun to address the wounds inflicted by the demise of the timber industry and the ensuing social ills. Working together, county government officials, former foresters, Forest Service officials, and environmentalists have surveyed the county's timber resources and designed several forest restoration projects to address both forest health and employment issues in the county.

Clifton-Choctaw Tribe, Louisiana
A small, rural-development project initiated by the U.S. Forest Service in 1994 was intended to help the Clifton Choctaw Indian Tribe work toward economic self-sufficiency while simultaneously furthering the agency's longleaf pine restoration efforts. This case study addresses issues of community capacity and long-term investment from community development and ecosystem restoration projects.

Columbia-Pacific Resource Conservation and Development District, Washington
After mill shutdowns caused massive layoffs by the forest products industry in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the RC&D in a four-county area in western Washington spearheaded a wide range of regional economic development projects. A coalition among labor groups, environmental interests, landowners, and church groups formed and pushed through state legislation to provide work opportunities to displaced timber workers. This case study explores the success of this regional economic diversification effort and asks hard questions about the sustainability of this effort.

Merrimack Watershed, New Hampshire
With land uses ranging from federally-designated wilderness areas to national forest to heavily industrialized urban corridors, the Merrimack Watershed is a study in contrasts. This case study focuses on the efforts of the Beaver Brook Association, a nonprofit private land trust and educational organization located on one reach of the Merrimack River. The Association is working with local communities and public schools to manage the watershed's forest for sustainable timber harvest, recreation, education, and wildlife habitat.

New York City Water Supply, New York
Relationships between New York City and the residents of the Catskill and Delaware Watersheds have been strained since the 1930s, when the city began taking land by eminent domain to build reservoirs to supply urban water needs. In the early 1990s, when the city tried to impose land use restrictions within the watershed to avoid constructing a $5-billion water filtration plant required by EPA, some residents threatened violence against city officials. Under the leadership of the state Department of Environmental Quality, a partnership involving the city, state, and federal agencies and local residents was formed to address both local concerns and city needs. The city agreed to invest $1 billion into the watershed over 10 years to protect water quality while maintaining rural economic activities.

Ponderosa Pine Partership, Colorado
When federal land management agencies began shifting from production to ecosystem management in the late 1980s, residents of southwestern Colorado formed a federal lands initiative to try to influence federal agency policies. Instead of promoting adversarial standoffs, however, the coordinator of the federal lands initiative met with a county commissioner and U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management staff to try to find common ground. Others soon joined what came to be known as the Ponderosa Pine Partnership. The partnership has worked to develop land management practices that meet both ecological and economic needs.

Revitalizing Baltimore, Maryland
This case study describes an attempt to link urban well-being with ecosystem health through community involvement in watershed management. Through a U.S. Forest Service-funded experiment in urban forestry at the watershed scale carried out by a consortium of local, state, and federal agencies, community groups, and environmental organizations in Baltimore City and Baltimore County, Revitalizing Baltimore partners work from a belief that local environmental restoration improves social and economic conditions. Project partners are attempting to educate Baltimore citizens in urban forestry and watershed management with a goal of locally-based, sustainable watershed planning and restoration.

Sonoma, California
Since 1989, Sonoma ReLeaf has planted more than 30,000 trees along city streets, trails, and flood control districts, and in so doing has engaged an unlikely array of corporate, government, environmental, and community partners. The result is not only an improved urban and suburban habitat for people, bats, amphibians, fish, and birds, but an extended sense of community based on a recognition of the value of diversity and a commitment to stewardship of a shared place.

Swan Valley, Montana
The Swan Valley Citizens Ad Hoc Committee counts the evolution from animosity to collaborative problem-solving as one of its major accomplishments. The Committee formed almost a decade ago to diffuse community hostility and address community needs in this rural community surrounded by public lands. Other Committee achievements include an economic diversification plan, a stewardship approach to forest management, and the Swan Ecosystem Center—a community education and ecosystem restoration center.

Umbagog National Wildlife Refuge, New Hampshire
What happens when a rural way of life, an ecologically sensitive wetland, and a timber-based economy are all threatened by land speculation? This is the case in rural New Hampshire, where many local residents felt they were overlooked when a new national wildlife refuge was developed. This case study tells their story.

Western Upper Peninsula Forest Improvement District, Michigan
The Western Upper Peninsula Forest Improvement District is a private, nonindustrial forest landowner cooperative with 801 active members managing 162,585 acres of private forest lands in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Collectively, this group has brought over $110 million to the region, provides full-time employment for 65 people, and teaches forest management to landowners.
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Community-based forestry articles by Communites Committee member and professional journalist Jane Braxton Little:

Published in American Forests
Beyond the Fire Line (Spring 2002)
Wallowa: Building Fire Safety and Community Forestry (Autumn 2001)
Under An Open Sky: Tree Planting as a Career (Spring 2001)
Stewardship's Trial by Forests (Autumn 2000)
Flowing From Forests to Faucets (Spring 2000)
Family Forests: Loving Care, Heavy Burdens (Winter 2000)
Bugged: Bark Beetles in Alaska's Kenai Forests (Autumn 1999)
Arguing for Accord: All-Party Monitoring (Winter 1999)
A Junk to Jobs Experiment: Small-Diameter Lumber (Autumn 1998)
The Woods: Reclaiming the Neighborhood (Winter 1998)
A Watery Issue: The Feather River Alliance (Winter 1997)
Forest Communities Become Partners in Management (Summer 1996)

Published in American News Service
Maidu Indians Work to Restore Their Land and Culture (August 20, 2000)
Saving Jobs and Trees: New Partnerships in the Woods (August 23, 1999)
Forest Pact Provides Firewood, Jobs While Protecting Resources (July 10, 1999)

Published in California Trees
Urban Forestry Makes Olympic Debut (Winter 2002)
Coping with Forest Pests (Fall 2001)
Harnessing the Power of California's Wood Waste (Summer 2001)
Greenspace: The Cambria Land Trust (Spring 2001)
The Quest for Quality Tree Stock (Fall 2000)
The New Millennium Ranger: New Challenges are Changing Foresters (Spring/Summer 2000)
Watersheds: Embracing the Ties that Bind: Upstream, Downstream Partnerships (Winter 2000)
Trees for the Millennium: An Urban Forest Legacy (Summer 1999)
Urban Resource Stewardship (Spring 1998)

Published in California Wild
Common Ground: The Quincy Library Group (Spring 1998)

Published in Chronicle of Community
The Whiskey Creek Group: Where Consensus is not a Goal and the Forest Service is not the Devil (Spring 1999)
The Feather River Alliance (Autumn 1997)

Published in Communities and Forests
Maidu Pilot Project Advances Forest Stewardship (Spring 2000)
Stewardship Congressional Field Tours (Winter 1999)

Published in E Magazine
A River Reborn: The Feather River Alliance (March/April 1998)

Published in Forest Magazine (formerly Inner Voice)
Maidu Stewardship Project: Restoring the Understory (Summer 2002)
Coming of Age for Quincy Library Group (Spring 2002)
Collaboration: Getting Along in the Forest (September/October 1998)
A Library Tempest: The Quincy Library Group (March/April 1998)

Published in The Forestry Source
Spirit of Forest Congress Lives on in Communities (January 1998)

Published in High Country News
Can green-certified lumber make it? (June 24, 2002)
Restoration Workers: A new world in the woods (April 1, 2002)
Forestry Nominee: Rey of light or death Rey? (July 30, 2001)
Howdy, Neighbor! Consensus even came to Washington, D.C (May 13, 1996)

Published in Hope
Out of the Woods: Lynn Jungwirth (May-June 2002)
Don't Fence Us In: Old Enemies Forging New Partnerships (July-August 1998)

Published in Yes!
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