A group of 80 plus landowners and collaborative partners gathered for the Western Lands Partnership Forum in early January in Las Vegas, Nevada. Partnerscapes and staff from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Partners for Fish and Wildlife program worked together to plan and deliver a unique forum, gathering thoughts from a group of conservation all-stars about the skills, opportunities, and challenges of collaborative conservation and public-private conservation partnerships in the West, including Alaska and Hawaii. Landowner partners included state, federal, Tribal and nonprofit partners including soil and water conservation districts and university staff. The extremely interactive 1.5-day event featured story telling from a number of perspectives (landowner and partner) that served as jumping off points for broad discussions among all the different perspectives. What was very encouraging was the broad agreement across a number of topics related to having open conversations, establishing relationships built on trust, and building productive multi-perspective conservation partnerships.

The hard work of facilitation, also a partnership between Partnerscapes and U.S. Fish and Wildlife, was key to capturing the thoughts, ideas, and insights of this amazing group of people. These landowners and cooperating partners put their skills to work every day, but we seldom have an opportunity to sit back and reflect on these skills and how they positively impact natural resources and human communities. Attendees were also asked to provide input on how this knowledge can best be shared through networking opportunities, to help those engaged in collaborative conservation maximize their successes.

The forum was the first event where Partnerscapes made a concerted effort to provide a “live time” social media presence on Facebook and Instagram, including both photos and videos where forum participants were able to share their perspective on topics key to the discussion. Additionally, a private Facebook group was created for Forum participants where discussions and sharing are now continuing. A report is being prepared that will summarize the results of all the hard work and will be made available to all who are interested. In the meantime, you can look for content created during the forum on the Partnerscapes Facebook page and Instagram feeds. Thanks to the planning team and especially the participants for creating a truly unique and inspiring experience!