Partnerships Primer

On this page:  Why Partnerships  |  Priorities  |  Find Partners  |  
                     Find Money  |  FAQs  |  Leverage SuccessLinks

Why Partnerships?

The Forest Service shares common conservation and recreation goals with many other organizations and individuals in our region. These include caring for wildlife habitat, maintaining public trails, and protecting watersheds that are key to public water supplies.

Partnerships allow us to work together to reach our common goals. With 17 forests and 7 grasslands totaling 26.6 million acres in five states, the Rocky Mountain Region has many partnership opportunities.

In any given year, the Rocky Mountain Region is involved in hundreds of partnerships, some with the regional office but many more with individual forest/grassland units and ranger districts. Partnering for specific projects allows partners to meet their goals while helping to address public needs. It also gives the many organizations and individuals in our region (who love public lands and want them to thrive) a chance to pitch in and help.

You can find an introduction to what partnerships with the Forest Service are in Chapter I of the national Partnership Guide. Another valuable resource is the Western Collaboration Assistance Network (WestCAN).

Understanding Forest Service Priorities

The Rocky Mountain Region is interested in partnerships that help address:

  • Water.
  • Recreation and reconnecting children with nature.
  • Forest & Grassland Health.
  • Climate change.

Here are some more specific areas in which we frequently partner with others:

  • Supporting inventory and monitoring to help us understand our natural resources and guide our management.
  • Providing outreach and opportunities that exemplify that science-based understanding.
  • Managing the health of the environment.
  • Cultivating sustainable activities – from recreation to energy.
  • Restoring wetlands, reconstructing streams, monitoring water quality.
  • Reducing forest fire fuels.
  • Removing noxious weeds.
  • Planning interpretive exhibits.
  • Patrolling backcountry, helping hikers, teaching leave-no-trace stewardship.
  • Maintaining trails, maintaining recreation areas, constructing fences, maintaining roads.
  • Improving wildlife habitat.

Learning more about our region may help you identify a project that interests you. See our briefing materials on the region and on its forests and grasslands. Additional information is at Forest & Grassland Statistics. Looking at our region's past success stories also may give you ideas for projects.


Forests and grasslands also have their own webpages related to their partnerships:


Finding Partners

A key to success in partnering is to examine what goals each partner has and how they match-up. Successful partnerships contain at least the following elements:

  • All involved have at least one common goal with similar priorities.
  • Everyone “brings something to the table.”
  • All want to work together to get something done.

The Rocky Mountain Region will work with a single partner, an umbrella organization that has formal agreements with other groups, or collaboratives.

The number of partners can be expanded when needed. An agency or an agency’s partner(s) can create additional partnerships with multiple organizations, companies, schools, or other agencies. This is what makes the potential to accomplish common projects or goals so high.

Information on how the Forest Service is organized and operates nationally is in Chapter III of the national Partnership Guide. Many of our partners are nonprofits and Information on nonprofits in general and on particular nonprofits that we often partner with can be found in Chapter IV of the Partnership Guide. Also see our list of all our Rocky Mountain Region partners, past and present.

For ideas on partnering with Native American tribes, see the Tribal Tourism Toolkit from the National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers.

Information on contracting with partners is in Chapter VII of the Partnership Guide.


Finding Money

When setting up a partnership, the Forest Service and its potential partners work together to examine what is needed (funding, expertise, labor, equipment, etc.), examine which partners are able to provide resources to address these needs, and examine how much each can “bring to the table.” Obtaining grants is often a part of this process.

Working together, partners can leverage resources, place a focus on joint priorities, improve accountability and reporting, and build a sense of community. Together, multiple partners may align better with (or exceed) a grantor’s needs and expectations than they would separately.

See the Rocky Mountain Region's Funding Opportunities Desk Guide for information on more than 200 grant sources and funding opportunities.

An External Funding Workshop was held in February of 2009. Click here for educational materials from that event.

Grants Help

The following websites provide general information on grants as well as specific information on available grants:


Content for Grant Applications

In compiling your grant proposal, information on the Rocky Mountain Region and its National Forests and Grasslands -- including some statistics -- might be useful. Such basic information is contained in our briefing materials on both the region and its components. Additional information is at Forest and Grassland Statistics.


While the USDA Forest Service is prohibited from soliciting donations, it can accept them. Chapter IX of the Partnership Guide discusses donations in some detail. It is far more common for the Forest Service to work with the National Forest Foundation, local foundations, or other entities that welcome donations and may have more leeway to apply these funds as needed.


Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are partnerships?
  2. How can I find out if my organization’s priorities align with the priorities of a Forest, Grassland, the Rocky Mountain Research Station, or the Rocky Mountain Region?
  3. Other than common priorities or focus areas, what other factors need to align to make partnership feasible and successful?
  4. How can more funding or resources be found so that a partnership is possible?
  5. Where can I get information about grant sources and improving my success in getting grants?
  6. What formal steps are required to make a partnership possible?
  7. Is there training available to help me begin or improve my partnerships?
  8. Is there any guidance on partnerships with the Forest Service?
  9. What is the National Forest Foundation, and can it help my organization?
  10. What happens if we find that our priorities or timing don’t align?


Leveraging Success

Success should be reported for a number of reasons, including:

  • To learn lessons to apply to future projects -- what went right, what went wrong. Identifying where additional skills, effort, or partners would have been helpful is especially useful. Gathering and evaluating feedback from all involved in a project can highlight lessons learned.
  • To provide recognition which both honors our partners and may lead to more partnerships and larger grants through increased public support and interest.
  • To give others ideas for their own projects and partnerships.

Success can be publicized through reports, celebrations, news articles, and websites. (This website's Partnerships Results section contains our success stories.) Chapter X of the Partnership Guide provides ideas for getting your message out. Ask your Forest Service partnership coordinators about the best ways to work with them and their public affairs specialists on this. Testimonials solicited from project participants can be a powerful source of feedback and ideas for others when published. See the Testimonials subsection this website's Partnerships Results section.


Related Links