The National Forest Foundation (NFF) partnered with the Carson National Forest in February to host a Recreation Partnerships Summit in two New Mexico communities. NFF and Carson National Forest staff facilitated a positive, solutions-oriented discussion with 87 people at the KTAOS Solar Center in Taos and 38 at Ghost Ranch Education & Retreat Center in Abiquiu.
Participants from diverse perspectives – local elected officials, mountain bikers, ski resort representatives, Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management leadership, volunteer groups, outfitters, and many more – came together with community members and colleagues to outline next steps to achieve priority recreation goals on nearby public lands.
We hoped participants would leave the Summits with improved relationships and collaborative energy, as well as motivation to create solutions related to recreation and volunteerism. Judging from the positive energy and vigorous discussions, we achieved those objectives. Moreover, participants honed in on several key themes, including:
- the need for collaboration to maintain and improve trail systems,
- ideas to expand volunteer opportunities, and
- a desire to continue coordinating through a steering committee of local representatives.
In the coming month, NFF staff will be busy distilling additional themes and next steps. We are excited to continue working with the Carson National Forest as they take the next steps in a new, collaborative conversation about recreation.
What prompted the discussion?
In 2016, the Carson National Forest reached out to the NFF to discuss the best way to engage local communities in recreation, volunteerism, and tourism-related challenges. As a first step, the NFF interviewed local recreation representatives, community members, businesses, Forest Service staff, and others to learn about existing and potential needs.
We heard from community members about the need to build relationships among partners, local communities, and the Forest Service, develop shared goals for recreation, and take concrete steps to build the capacity of partners who live, work, and play on and near the Carson National Forest.
Since then, we’ve been working closely with a team at the Carson National Forest to plan the Summits and engage partners. Though the Summits represent a successful culmination of the planning effort, this exciting work is just beginning.
For more information, including a list of attendees and photos, visit nationalforests.org/carsonrecsummit.