The Hood River Forest Collaborative was first founded in 2011. The organization was formed when community members came together to comment on restoration efforts by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). They aim to facilitate stakeholder discussion in forest management in the Hood River USFS ranger district. The Hood River Forest Collaborative is one of 37 public land collaboration groups in Oregon. In their own words, “The Stew Crew brings together local residents from the Hood River Valley, watershed organizations, government agencies, tribes, environmental organizations, the forest industry and recreation stakeholders” The collaborative meets regularly once per month for about three hours at the Hood River Ranger Station. USFS staff are greatly encouraged to attend meetings, but are not considered members of the crew when polling, voting and initiatives are written. This clear cut distinction is very apparent and crucial to the effective nature of the collaborative as a body separate from the federal agencies.
The collaborative aims to create the best and most effective space possible for individuals and organizations to voice not only their grievances, but their suggestions and meaningful positions related to the management of the Hood River Forest. They strive to have a powerful and diverse voice that is made up of stakeholders at every level, so that the forest is managed most effectively for everyone that relies on it, regardless of their standing or position. The collaborative does a wonderful job of using something as small as a public comment to truly impact and make an impact on the decisions being made about the lands that are directly attached to their lives and livelihoods. The Stew Crew also comes together to craft proposals to present to the federal agencies that have the final say in the decisions being made. With these proposals, the collaborative can voice their desires and concerns at each step of the decision making process. It is also a useful way to keep the powers to be accountable for their decisions.
The organizations and people in the Stew Crew are active members of their communities and desire to maintain the best possible situation for all involved. They word this as such, “restoring ecological resiliency…sustaining socio-economic benefits…addressing forest health, soil and water quality…fire resiliency…cultural patterns of use and opportunities to mitigate climate change” (HRFC Charter 2011)
The collective compromises between multiple stakeholders, and these compromises can be controversial to individual stakeholders. In forest management there is a complex web of stakeholders and government agencies. The group meets to discuss matters of land use, initiatives involving usage of the forest and potential projects or work that is set to be done within forest limits. It also uses a written out list of effective techniques to keep in mind when the members interact with each other. These include letting others speak to finality, being respectful to the opinions of others and keeping an open mind when discussion initiatives and resolutions.
This is the link to the Stew Crew homepage. It offers a very neat and tidy look into the Collaborative, gives a brief history, lists their active projects and gives the time and location for meetings. This is the website presented to the public in order to inform and promote membership in the organization.
This organization is a reporting agency that focuses on keeping the collaborative accountable for its decisions and works to ensure that the collaborative is using the best, most accurate and up-to-date information available. In some ways they may come off as a “truthing” body, but their goal is to make sure that even the critiques are being critiqued, especially when the Stew Crew makes proposals to the USFS.
This is a call for public comment that was issued by the USFS. This is the type of call that the collaborative would respond to and craft initiatives around. This specific call for comment is the most recent one touched upon by the Stew Crew. The collaborative uses this opportunity to enter into record their comments in the form of the products of the meetings. This is a look into the steps through which the crew works.
DuPraw, Marcelle E., Andrea Bedell‐Loucks, Maia J. Enzer, Katie M. Lyon, Daniel Silvas, Laurie A. Thorpe, and Peter B. Williams. 2015. "From Personality‐Driven to Institutionally Driven Collaboration by the US Forest Service." Conflict Resolution Quarterly 33, no. 2 (2015): 149-76.
This article outlines the process of collaboration within the United States Forest Service, which is helpful to understanding the decision making process with the Stew Crew and other stakeholders as the USFS works to manage America’s forests.
United States Forest Service. 2010. Mt. Hood National Forest (N.F.), Off-highway Vehicle (OHV) Management Plan, including Forest Plan Amendment #17: Environmental Impact Statement.
This management by the USFS is an example of the outcome of planning and discussion to come up with a plan to manage Mt. Hood forest, in which the forest service had to dictate how off-road vehicles could be used for recreation. Resolutions such as these come only after discussion and engagement with stakeholders, who have many different visions for the forest.