“One cannot be pessimistic about the West. This is the native home of hope. When it fully learns that cooperation, not rugged individualism, is the quality that most characterizes and preserves it, then it will have achieved itself and outlived its origins. Then it has a chance to create a society to match its scenery.”
– Wallace Stegner, The Sound of Mountain Water
Conservation in the West is deeply linked to community. This is in part because the history of the West is about people tied to natural resources for their livelihood and well-being. Native Americans and their tribal cultures; homesteaders, ranchers, and farmers; miners and prospectors; advocates for the wild and wilderness; hunters, anglers, backpackers and other recreationists; and, stewards of place and community — all generations of people that recognize the value of free-flowing rivers, productive rangelands and forests, and a diversity of fish and wildlife.
In this vast region of the U.S., countless rural communities and towns subsist with people who use, manage, or own the land and understand the social and ecological complexities of their landscapes.
We believe that collaboration has to begin here — working with the people who know and live in these communities. While we are a public-private partnership with a mission and mandate to work at continental, regional, and state scales, we put tremendous time and effort into developing relationships with private landowners, local working groups, conservation districts, watershed groups, and neighbors working with neighbors across fence lines to create solutions that work on the land.
We’ve learned over time that top-down conservation fails. What works is supporting local people and partnerships through grassroots conservation; building trust and credibility; bringing diverse perspectives together to find common ground; transferring lessons learned about collaboration; and, networking conservation projects in a way that scales up impact over time and space.
We’ve developed strategic partnerships with the following landowner-based organizations to find ways to cooperate on voluntary, proactive working lands conservation on public and private lands:
- Established in 2008, Partnerscapes embodies a grassroots movement of private landowners working with agencies, non-profit organizations, and policymakers to collaborate on conservation projects to sustain our working landscapes for present and future generations. PFC represents the voices of 21st-century conservation and the collective effort to support working landscapes through voluntary, incentive-based public and private programs. Partnerscapes.org
- The Family Farm Alliance is a powerful advocate for family farmers, ranchers, irrigation districts, and allied industries in seventeen Western states. The Alliance is focused on one mission—to ensure the availability of reliable, affordable irrigation water supplies to Western farmers and ranchers. FamilyFarmAlliance.org
- Western Landowners Alliance advances policies and practices that sustain working lands, connected landscapes, and native species. WesternLandowners.org