Our cooperative conservation grants have climbed from around $350 million in 2001 to $431 million in 2004. We have launched three new programs tailored to enhancing private stewardship and cooperative conservation. We are engaged in training, some organizational restructuring, and addition of people devoted to coordinating collaborative efforts.
We have initiated a number of collaborative efforts and supported other ongoing efforts, such as the Sonoita Planning Partnership outside of Tucson, a sage grouse protection effort in Nevada, and the 11-state High Plains Partnership. Interior has also reinvigorated Resource Advisory Councils (RACs) within the Bureau of Land Management and revised land-management guidance documents to enhance cooperative conservation.
Collaboration, as your story points out, is difficult. However, the growing extent and duration of these efforts attest to their promise and, in many instances, their effectiveness. The test of success is not whether every single collaborative effort succeeds. The test is whether the growing momentum toward cooperative conservation, on balance, reduces conflict while fostering healthier lands and thriving communities. We believe many of these efforts are meeting that test.
Lynn Scarlett and Rebecca Watson
The authors are assistant secretaries of the U.S. Department of the Interior.