“Many hands make light work”. When these words were penned in the 1324 cult classic Bevis of Hampton, folks may have scoffed at it. Or they could have loved it. Who knows? But what I do know is that now days, those words ring truer and truer.
On September 25, 2019, The United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service and United Forest Service entered into a Shared Stewardship Agreement with the North Carolina Wildlife Resource Commission, North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and the NCDA&CS North Carolina Forest Service. North Carolina is the 2nd state in the East to join in this agreement and the 7th overall. Currently Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Utah and Arkansas are the only states that have this agreement.
Shared Stewardship came about in August of 2018 as a strategy to work towards addressing wildfires, drought, invasive species, and insect/disease epidemics. A study was done which led to the creation of this agreement and can be found here. The USDA Secretary and current USFS Chief heralded this program to address those concerns and also build off of other programs that were outlined in the 2018 Farm Bill. One program that is already being used in NC is the Good Neighbor Authority between the USFS and NCDA&CS.
So what does it mean? This agreement “establishes a framework for federal and state agencies to collaborate better, focus on accomplishing mutual goals, further common interests, and effectively respond to the increasing ecological challenges and natural resource concerns in North Carolina.” It also “outlines the importance of ensuring meaningful participation from state and local partners such as North Carolina's State Parks, Natural Heritage Program, Department of Transportation, Conservation Districts, and non-governmental conservation organizations.” Public and Private. It provides a way for these folks to work together on “All Lands” issues. The NRCS works with Conservation Districts to implement conservation on private lands in various settings from the mountains to the sea. NCWRC and NCFS also work with private landowners for wise use of resources and conservation planning. Now, when things are being planned, the whole mosaic of the landscape will be the focus amongst these partners. Public lands and private lands. What this means in the ability of these folks to seek additional funding for projects or assist with projects is EXTREMELY exciting!
With this new conduit, it will be exciting to see how these folks will work together to get conservation on the ground. Want to know more? A press release of the agreement can be found here. For more information on Shared Stewardship visit this link.