As a nonprofit, nongovernmental agency, Pinchot Partners serves to facilitate conversations between a micro-sampling of varied interests: timber, tribal, and environmental. It includes voices of the local community, labor groups, sustainable forestry experts, the U.S. Forest Service, and recreation enthusiasts.
Monthly meetings and sub-committee groups offer a safe, respectful, and open forum to share perspectives, feedback, and scientific findings that inform the group’s eventual detailed recommendations on projects within the Cowlitz Valley Ranger District.
To help establish common ground, Pinchot Partners uses a consensus tool called Zones of Agreement.
Subcommittees hunker down to whittle and wordsmith, until they have a “living document” that maps the terrain of their agreements, as well as the places where the group hasn’t quite found consensus. While it can be a slow, sometimes frustrating process, the work provides input to the Cowlitz Valley Ranger District to help further define and execute their mission.
Pinchot Partners works to find places of agreement on specific subjects, such as riparian reserves, forest roads, invasive species management, monitoring data and timber sales. Even when they find solid agreement at the general level, when it comes time to submit recommendations on Forest Service projects, site-specific concerns can amplify the differences in perspective.
Finding consensus takes time, patience, clarity and understanding, but it’s an essential part of “working on common ground.”