ABOVE: The first Canyon Country Working Group Meeting held in 2019. SER-SW gave the group $300 to support the meeting. Find out more about this group here.
Building Collaboration in the Restoration Community
Our southwestern ecosystems present unique challenges for ecological restoration: low and variable precipitation, prevalent invasive annual species, and fire risk – to name just a few!  But land disturbance is on-going and out of necessity, there are a growing number of dedicated managers and practitioners working to restore function and stability to our landscapes.  Unfortunately, when professionals feel that they are working in isolation to solve tough problems, frustrations can rise for those who can’t find the solutions they need, and those who have found solutions can have a hard time knowing where to share their successes; ultimately much time can be lost.  So how do we connect?
Restoration working groups are one way to bring together the myriad of professionals who have projects and information they would like to share with one another.  Different than peer-reviewed literature and professional conferences, working groups are typically free to attend and can be very region-specific.  They also create a level and open forum for all attending, be they land managers, educators, policy makers, contract laborers, or scientists.  Ultimately, working groups are an opportunity to network, learn, and share about relevant restoration work, and create opportunities for collaboration to enhance the quality of our restoration and rehabilitation efforts.
Working group meetings can take on many forms but have lasting impact all the same.  For example, the Canyon Country Working Group in Moab, Utah keeps it minimal: they focus on restoration work taking place in and around the Moab area and meet every year in early Spring for 2 hours.  They have three invited talks around a centralized theme, followed by group discussions.  Alternatively, the Colorado Plateau Science and Management Forum is an all-day event that occurs every other year and has a broader scope that applies to anyone on the Colorado Plateau; there are several speakers and group discussions are longer and more involved.
Do you have information to share about an existing working group or do you want to get involved in one? SER-SW is creating a directory of working groups on its website to encourage local engagement.  Please send us information about your group! Include a blurb stating the scope and purpose of the group, the season and how frequently the group meets, and the name and email of a contact person.
Do you need help getting a working group started or hosted?  SER-SW provides small grants that can help to fund working group meetings; this can be used to help cover the cost of anything from venue rental to speaker costs to food and beverages for the event.  SER-SW is also working on a How-to guide for setting up your own working group.
If you would like to give us feedback on this or to find out more, please contact us at: info@sersw.org
Find out more about the SER-SW Workshop Grant>>
Holding a meeting soon? 
Working Group Meeting Promotional Materials:
Feel free to print off the following materials for meetings.
Copy of the latest newsletter or two.