#GivingTuesday 2022

Addressing forest health and wildfire risk at scale requires capacity building across a system that is experiencing a number of bottlenecks. By approaching this challenge with a systems-level approach, we can break down this work into four categories of capacity that are brought by partner organizations who play critical roles in creating impact through forest restoration projects on public lands.

Written by: Zach Knight, CEO & Co-Founder and Mac Cloyes, Chief of Staff & Policy Director

Blue Forest team members are often asked about what is needed to build capacity to implement forest health projects at the required scale to address the threat of catastrophic wildfire. The short answer is a strong network of partners. For the longer answer, and a bit more about who those partners are, we hope you continue reading.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act made historic federal investments in wildfire risk reduction in 2022. The USDA Forest Service’s Wildfire Crisis Strategy calls for treating an additional 50 million acres in the next 10 years to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire. While new state and federal funding is important, this represents a down payment toward the overall need. This generational public investment will require new capacity to deliver on these ambitious goals. This need for capacity means there has never been a better time for everyone from small dollar donors to philanthropic organizations  to leverage their knowledge and resources with these public funds to build the required capacity to solve the wildfire crisis.

We are especially pleased to share an updated version of our 2021 Giving Tuesday blog as each of the organizations noted below is a nonprofit that you can support directly today. 

The Wildfire Risk Reduction System

Addressing forest health and wildfire risk at scale requires capacity building across a system that is experiencing a number of bottlenecks. By approaching this challenge with a systems-level approach, we can break down this work into four categories of capacity that are brought by partner organizations who play critical roles in creating impact through forest restoration projects on public lands. A new category of NGOs we are highlighting this year are building capacity through technology. While there is overlap for some organizations, the five categories are:

  • Implementation Capacity (“the Doers”)

  • Local Capacity (“the Guides”)

  • Forest Capacity (“the Workforce Developers”)

  • Regional Capacity (“the Conveners”)

  • Technology

Implementation Capacity or “the Doers”

These are nonprofit partners of the US Forest Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and other land management agencies that manage ecological restoration projects. These groups serve as the nonprofit general contractors that manage all aspects of some projects that have been planned by federal land managers.

An example is the National Forest Foundation (NFF), which is the congressionally chartered nonprofit partner to the US Forest Service. NFF also manages implementation of two Forest Resilience Bond projects (and many other priority projects) on the Tahoe National Forest and across the Western US. Grant funding allows these partners to hire more staff to manage contractors, which directly leads to more work being completed on the ground.

Other examples of implementation partners include Pheasants Forever (read about our new partnership here), California Deer Association, Great Basin Institute, Trout Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, or tribal focused regional project management nonprofit organizations such as Lomakatsi Restoration Project. Some organizations, like Lomakatsi, have in-house crews to implement projects, reducing their reliance on contracting out implementation work. Supporting organizations with in-house implementation crews is a highly effective way to build local workforce capacity (more below).

Local Capacity or “the Guides”

These are nonprofits that focus on a single watershed or geography and their staff represent the local areas in which they work. These groups help build local support that provides the social license to enable ecological restoration projects to be planned and implemented at a greater scale and with greater community engagement. An example on the Tahoe National Forest is the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL), which helps to facilitate the North Yuba Forest Partnership forest collaborative.

The Central Sierra Resiliency Fund is another example of this type of organization. The Central Sierra Resiliency Fund unifies the community response to the Creek Fire recovery to address erosion, site cleanup, drainage, watershed, and soil stabilization. Groups like these often spend time and resources to educate both the public and key governmental agencies on priority issues and community efforts.

Forest Capacity or “the Workforce Developers”

These are groups providing technical assistance to individuals, communities, and businesses that work in the forestry space. More forestry technicians are desperately needed to support project implementation, as are more wildland firefighters to battle the ever-expanding fire season.

A great example is The Forestry and Fire Recruitment Program (FFRP). FFRP provides career support to formerly incarcerated firefighters and those currently incarcerated in California’s Conservation Camps who are interested in careers in the wildland fire and forestry sector. FFRP was developed in direct response to the growing need for wildfire-related personnel. Supporting this organization not only funds training for these individuals, but it will help develop the business of providing skilled forestry technician services, which in turn supports more job training.

Lomakatsi, through their in-house crews and education and training programs layer training and employment opportunities throughout their work. Blending implementation with workforce development positions Lomakatsi to add significant capacity to the geographies they work in.

Regional Capacity or “the Conveners”

These organizations help bring stakeholders together in ways that would not be possible without their added support. This can include convening forest collaboratives (local stakeholder groups that help plan and implement projects) with their state and federal partners as well as sharing technical expertise and assistance. In fact, supporting local collaboratives directly, if you have one in your backyard, is a great way to motivate restoration projects that matter close to home.

For those without backyard collaboratives, consider the Sierra Institute for Community and Environment (in CA) and Sustainable Northwest (in OR/WA) as good examples of this type of organization. In addition to bringing local groups together, these organizations  provide policy expertise, support for the planning process, and training on new tools and techniques.

It is also important to highlight that many of these organizations work across multiple categories to achieve their mission. Organizations like the Sierra Institute develop place-based, hands-on capacity to inform and implement work with communities that goes well beyond forest restoration in Northern California, as well as extract lessons from that work and share them through regional, statewide, and national networks that bring together forest collaboratives and policy makers.


A new category that we want to share is nonprofit organizations that are developing technology solutions to support a broad range of capacity building. Wildfires.org is a nonprofit group of software and hardware engineers, product managers, designers, entrepreneurs, and forest conservationists. Wildfires.org is developing tools to reduce the time and cost of planning, monitoring, and implementation of wildfire mitigation activities. Notably, Wildfires.org’s Turboplan tool, a digitized NEPA platform has the potential to cut planning time by more than 50%.

We hope you enjoy planning your giving on this important day and that you choose to support some of the groups that are poised to make a difference for climate resilient forests in 2023!