Across the country, people are planting trees, organizing community gardens, monitoring local ecosystems, and cleaning up nearby parks or natural areas. Those who do this work may not think of what they do as “stewardship”, however, they are indeed stewards of their local environments. Care of shared natural resources in urban areas increasingly relies on the work of environmental stewardship groups and coalitions. At the same time, land managers and other decision makers often do not understand the roles and contributions of civic stewards. Stewards themselves may also not be aware of others doing similar work in their area.

At present, no natural resource agency or organization is collecting or distributing comprehensive civic stewardship data at the local level. The Denver/Front Range Stewardship Mapping and Assessment Project (STEW-MAP) will fill this gap by surveying formal and informal stewardship groups across seven Colorado counties. Based on methodology developed by the USDA Forest Service’s NYC  Urban Field Station, the Denver STEW-MAP will paint a picture of the region’s environmental stewardship “landscape”, documenting where the many private, non-profit, and public sector organizations work, how they are connected, and from where they source information and tools.  For more information on the benefits of STEW-MAP, see “Why do STEW-MAP?

The Denver STEW-MAP seeks to answer the question: What are the social and spatial (geographic) interactions among groups that conserve, manage, monitor, advocate for, and educate the public about their local environments? Methods include an organizational-level survey with subsequent maps and social network datasets created from survey responses. In this way, the project adds a social layer of information to biophysical information on green infrastructure (e.g., urban tree canopy, parks and open space, riparian areas) in the metro area that already exists or is being developed. It will also uncover gaps in action, knowledge, and resources, which will inform the continued development of Denver Urban Field Station and influence future applied research projects and priorities.

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Last modified: March 17, 2017