What We Do
The Long-Term Role of Collaboration
The Communities Committee believes there is great merit in an increased stewardship role for communities in restoring and maintaining the integrity and biodiversity of the forested ecosystems around them. We are currently working with an Advisory Panel of of experts from federal and state government, academic institutions, and concerned stakeholder groups to develop recommendations for establishing a long-term role for collaborative public involvement in the management of National Forests and other public lands. Our aim is to identify the legislative actions and the new or revised institutional arrangements and structures needed to permanently integrate collaborative stakeholder participation into federal land management, to enable the United States to better achieve and sustain desired ecosystem and community conditions and functions. For more information on this project, contact Carol Daly, President of the Communities Committee Board of Directors.
Around the U.S., more than 3,000 communities in 43 states own and manage forests totaling 4.5 million acres. These forests provide economic, social and environmental benefits to their residents - places for outdoor recreation, protection of water supplies, wildlife habitat, educational opportunites, and timber and other forest products. Unfortunately, with timber companies putting vast tracts of land up for sale, many other communities are at risk of losing the benefits of their surrounding forest land as they are developed for residential or commercial uses. Community-owned forests provide an alternative to private development of these lands, and allow communities to maintain their forests and the quality of life they provide. For more information, see our Community-Owned Forests website.
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. For over a decade, a broad range of participants have sought to join, participate in, and advance this emerging social movement as a visionary form of sustainable forest stewardship. Therough this project we surveyed a sample of individuals and organizations engaged in CBF to investigate what forms of support they felt would be most helpful and effective in advancing the practice of CBF on the ground and at a collective scale. We also sought to determine the reach and potency of CBF as a force for social, economic, and environmental change. 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. The results are available here: CBF Survey Part I | CBF Survey Part II
The Communities Committee works to connect local community groups with national policymakers to affect change through the democratic system. It does this through leadership development, facilitation, mentoring, and the provision of relevant, up-to-date information on national policy issues. The Committee partners with American Forests, the National Network of Forest Practitioners, the Pinchot Institute for Conservation, and the Society of American Foresters in many of these activities.
The Committee's "Quick Guide" series provides community forestry groups with step-by-step guidelines for dealing with the media, tracking the federal appropriations process and the federal budget process, organizing field tours, and utilizing federal assistance programs.
Leadership Development and Mentoring
Communities Committee co-sponsors the Week In Washington with American Forests, the National Network of Forest Practitioners, and the Pinchot Institute for Conservation.
The Communities Committee has organized two national policy field tours for Congressional staff members (representing both Democrats and Republicans), U.S. Forest Service officials, timber contractors, forest policy specialists, community leaders, and forest workers. The national policymakers toured stewardship contracting projects in California and Montana. In 2002, the Committee sponsored a media field tour to introduce journalists from national and regional media to community forestry issues related to wildfire in the West.