Across the country, people are planting trees, organizing community gardens, monitoring local ecosystems, and cleaning up nearby parks or natural areas. Those who do this work may not think of what they do as “stewardship”, however, they are indeed stewards of their local environments. Care of shared natural resources in urban areas increasingly relies on the work of environmental stewardship groups and coalitions. At the same time, land managers and other decision makers often do not understand the roles and contributions of civic stewards. Stewards themselves may also not be aware of others doing similar work in their area.
At present, no natural resource agency or organization is collecting or distributing comprehensive civic stewardship data at the local level. The Denver Stewardship Mapping and Assessment Project (STEW-MAP) will fill this gap by surveying formal and informal stewardship groups across seven Colorado counties. Based on methodology developed by the New York City Urban Field Station, the Denver STEW-MAP will paint a picture of the region’s environmental stewardship “landscape”, documenting where the many private and public sector organizations work, how they are connected, and from where they source information and tools.
STEW-MAP will enable government and civic groups alike to enhance the capacity of the stewards of our communities. This tool can support civic participation, increase neighborhoods’ social cohesion, and support requests for funding and programming. Better understanding of civic environmental stewardship in urban areas will lead to less duplication of effort and better coordinated land and resource management. By collecting, analyzing, and sharing this information, the USDA Forest Service will be able to meet its obligation to provide timely civic stewardship information to local land managers and policy makers.
The Denver Stewardship Mapping and Assessment Project (STEW-MAP) seeks to answer the question: What are the social and spatial (geographic) interactions among groups that conserve, manage, monitor, advocate for, and educate the public about their local environments? Methods include an organizational-level survey with subsequent maps and social network datasets created from survey responses. In this way, the project adds a social layer of information to biophysical information on green infrastructure (e.g., urban tree canopy, parks and open space, riparian areas) in the metro area that already exists or is being developed. It will also uncover gaps in action, knowledge, and resources, which will inform the continued development of DUFS and influence future applied research projects and priorities.
These seven counties comprise Metro Denver Nature Alliance (Metro DNA) and the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), which invests in and connects arts and cultural organizations. The Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) includes these same counties as well as Clear Creek, Gilpin, and southwest Weld counties.
If you or your organization is interested in participating in the STEW-MAP survey, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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