Collins Projects

Our Collins conservation projects are delivering science-based stewardship on Conservancy-owned lands or lands of partner organizations, engaging partners, and creating work done at meaningful scales, long-term in nature, and exportable to the conservation community and beyond.

Collins Projects


Abating Threats to Groundwater- Dependent Systems

Participating States: Oregon (Washington, California)
Length of Project: 5 years
Amount of Award: $460,000
Contact: , 503.802.8100

In this project, we developed tools and approaches for conserving groundwater-dependent ecosystems and species (GDEs). We developed methods for determining the groundwater requirements of freshwater biodiversity; mapped the locations of GDEs in Oregon and Washington; and identified and mapped activities that threaten these GDEs. Groundwater conservation strategies are being implemented at key sites in Oregon, Washington, and California.

Our export strategies include a Methods Guide describing how to evaluate groundwater requirements of freshwater biodiversity (complete), regional assessments for Oregon and Washington, with maps of GDEs and their threats. Includes a groundwater-dependent biodiversity atlas (complete), a publication in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, summarizing the regional assessment for Oregon (Brown et al. 2010) (complete), a protocol developed with the US Forest for inventorying and monitoring GDEs on national forests (complete), and lastly, a publication describing the Environmental Water Requirements for GDEs, in collaboration with the US Forest Service (in progress).


Hells Canyon and Owhyee’s Weed Prevention Project: Protecting Biodiversity Through Prevention

Participating States: Idaho, Oregon
Length of Project: 5 years
Amount of Award: $500,000
Contact: , 208.350.2204

The focus of this project is the prevention of invasive species expansion in Hells Canyon grassland and Owhyee shrub steppe ecological systems in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Three strategies are being employed in this project: 1) emphasize prevention in relatively weed-free areas or Weed Prevention Areas (WPAs), 2) develop cost-effective and reliable detection methods to control and eradicate incipient weed invasions, and 3) network public and private land stewards across state boundaries.

Our export strategies include presenting findings and management recommendations to Coordinated Weed Management Areas (CWMAs) and at workshops concerned with weed management, employing panoramic images of active weed control and release of biocontrols for weeds like yellow starthistle and make them available on Webtx CD’s for training or viewing on an interactive web site, exporting information to ranchers and recreationists through weed awareness campaigns and in newsprint, television, National Public Radio and TNC chapter magazines in Oregon, Idaho, and Washington, and making presentations regarding remote sensing and weed science at regional, national and international conferences.

Monitoring Landscape-Scale Restoration of Coastal Forest Ecosystems

Participating States: Alaska
Length of Project: 2 years
Amount of Award: $113,500
Contact:

Preliminary results from this study on the Tongass suggest that a novel restoration technique called “artificial canopy gaps” may be an effective way to bring back wildlife habitat and biodiversity to old clearcuts. The Tongass established hundreds of these experimental canopy gaps back in the late 1980’s. Twenty years after canopy gap treatment, deer habitat, and plant diversity values of clearcuts appear in preliminary results to be much higher than when these forests are treated with conventional techniques. This study is unusual and valuable in that it is examining and documenting the long-term ecological effects of these treatments.

Findings of this project will hopefully result in intermediate or interstitial vegetation treatments rather than as a replacement for conventional thinning. The findings can help predict where treatments will be most effective in improving forage conditions, and suggest which alternative treatment could be used to maximize wildlife benefits.

Predictive Modeling to Test and Direct Strategic Management of Invasive Plant Species

Participating States: Montana
Length of Project: 5 years
Amount of Award: $491,992
Contact: , 406-466-5299

Using the model TELSA (Tool for Exploratory Landscape Scenario Analyses), this project aims to predict the spread of selected noxious weeds and to evaluate alternative weed management strategies and their associated costs and benefits within three landscapes. Additionally, the project is working to ensure that conditions exist to implement strategies and build capacity to enable effective management efforts into the future.

Our export strategies include participating in 2-3 invasive species management meetings (TNC and non-TNC) and other forums per year to talk about the results or on-going efforts, publish results in a peer reviewed journal, and provide documentation of results to enable partners to garner adequate funding.

Regional Strategies for Restoring Invaded Prairies

Participating States: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia
Length of Project: 5 years
Amount of Award: $499,935
Contact: , 541-753-3099 x133 or , 541-753-3099 x111

Invasive plants, especially non-native perennial grasses, are a critical threat to remnant prairies and oak savannas in the Pacific Northwest. However, current knowledge regarding the effectiveness of techniques for controlling these invasives is largely anecdotal. This project is one of the first in the entire Nature Conservancy to take a systematic and comprehensive approach to developing restoration strategies in an endangered community type across an entire ecoregion. Objectives are to evaluate and improve strategies for controlling invasive plants, while maintaining or enhancing native plant diversity and abundance, and to develop an approach to generalize these results so that they are applicable region-wide. By working from the outset in close collaboration with many land managers, the project will significantly influence the long-term management of key prairies throughout the region.

Our export strategies include incorporating results into stewardship at multiple key conservation sites, Findings shared in peer reviewed journals, technical journals, at professional meetings, at regional workshops, and field tours, and plant trait information will be integrated into a prairie database under development by M. Wilson, which will be made available to members and cooperators of the project. Soil characteristics will be added to a regional data base managed by S. Griffith.

Responding to Wind Energy Development at Scale

Participating States: Washington and Montana
Length of Project: 1 year
Amount of Award: $108,000
Contact: , 406-443-6733

Invasive plants, especially non-native perennial grasses, are a critical threat to remnant prairies and oak savannas in the Pacific Northwest. However, current knowledge regarding the effectiveness of techniques for controlling these invasives is largely anecdotal. This project is one of the first in the entire Nature Conservancy to take a systematic and comprehensive approach to developing restoration strategies in an endangered community type across an entire ecoregion. Objectives are to evaluate and improve strategies for controlling invasive plants, while maintaining or enhancing native plant diversity and abundance, and to develop an approach to generalize these results so that they are applicable region-wide. By working from the outset in close collaboration with many land managers, the project will significantly influence the long-term management of key prairies throughout the region. Read an article on The Nature Conservancy's website to learn how wildlife safe wind power is possible by visiting our Links and Resources section at the top right of this page.

Our export strategies include a spatially explicit ecological risk assessment associated with wind energy production, which will help inform and guide siting decisions for wind energy within eastern Washington and Montana and participation in and presentation at conferences for Conservancy staff, agencies and conservation organizations, and wind energy producers. Download the Eastern Washington Wind Power Conservation Blueprint Report on our Eastern Washington page.

Restoration and Experimental Management of Timber Harvested Watersheds in the Pacific Northwest

Participating States: Washington
Length of Project: 5 year
Amount of Award: $488,147
Contact: Liane Davis

This project focuses on implementing a large scale adaptive management study comparing alternative restoration pathways at Ellsworth Creek, Washington, and catalyzing collaboration between managers and scientists at several restoration sites throughout the Pacific Northwest in order to speed development of restoration knowledge.

Our export strategies include Ellsworth Creek becomes a platform for developing the Conservancy’s forest restoration expertise through on-the-ground application and rigorous testing of innovative forest restoration treatments and collaboration with agency and university scientists and restoration practitioners and the Ellsworth Creek project launches the Pacific Northwest Forest Restoration Learning Network, promoting communication among forest managers and scientists and catalyzing growth in broad and scientifically defensible results concerning the application of restoration treatments and landscape responses. Visit our Coast webpage for additional information.

Restoring Degraded Sagebrush Steppe

Participating States: Washington
Length of Project: 5 year
Amount of Award: $500,000
Contact: Sonia Hall

Cheatgrass, an invasive species in sagebrush steppe, has been invading and out-competing native grasses over the past 100 years. Right now there are not a lot of practical solutions to restoring native sagebrush steppe. This project aims to combine existing treatments with the use of a native rhizobacteria to effectively and economically abate the threat of cheatgrass invasion across a wide geography and variety of soil types.

Our export strategies include engage managers of experimental sites in the development, implementation, data collection and analysis of results. Meet regularly with land managers to provide updates and request input, results of work incorporated into the Area-Wide Project, quantified by jointly developed technical and outreach materials, coordinated field trips and/or workshops, a broad array of land managers cognizant of the applicability and limitations of the native rhizobacteria (P.f. D7), quantified by audiences at workshops and presentations led by partners (Chuck Warner) or staff on the results of experimental applications of P.f. D7, and two technical and two scientific publications published.

Restoring Fire Adapted Forests

Participating States: Oregon
Length of Project: 1 year
Amount of Award: $92,520
Contact: , 541-388-3020

The purpose of this project is to demonstrate how collaborative efforts can accelerate the restoration of fire-adapted forests on federal lands at meaningful, landscape scales. The plan is to implement restoration of forested landscape by addressing two stewardship gaps. First, we plan to add capacity to landscape assessments to prioritize restoration incorporating ecological restoration need with social values and second we plan to provide review of ecological data to ground truth and monitor management effectiveness. Our export strategies include using the Fire Learning Network to leverage what is learned from the project to at least four other landscapes. Access a link to the Nature Conservancy's Global Fire Initiative to learn more about the Fire Learning Network by visiting our Links and Resources section.

Sustainable Estuaries: Restoring Resilience and Adaptability in the Face of Climate Change

Participating States: Washington, Oregon, British Columbia
Length of Project: 5 years
Amount of Award: $500,000
Contact: Roger Fuller

This project is developing a broadly applicable toolkit for assessing the vulnerability of coastal wetlands to climate change and identifying actions that will restore the ability of estuaries to survive and adapt. The first two years of the project focused on baseline habitat mapping, condition assessment and identification of restoration projects at three estuaries. The final three years have focused on developing data, computer models, and tools to help managers choose actions that will restore resilient estuaries in the face of a changing environment.

Our export strategies include collaborating with members of the Conservancy’s Sea-Level Rise Learning Network to identify and fill gaps in tools and knowledge, collaborating with a leading national modeler to improve and disseminate new tools throughout the United States, developing an on-line Estuary Climate Change Adaptation Toolkit to guide scientists and managers in understanding and managing coastal wetlands from a long-term perspective, and through conference presentations and publications in peer reviewed journals, export the resulting framework, methods, and results to broader conservation and restoration audience. Visit our Climate Change webpage for additional information.

Sustainable Forestry & Biodiversity Conservation: Strategy Effectiveness Measures for Innovation Stewardship at the Garcia River Forest

Participating States: California
Length of Project: 5 years
Amount of Award: $499,840
Contact: , 415-281-0410

Project partners at the Garcia River Forest seek to demonstrate that a large, under-stocked tract of coastal forest can be returned to ecological and economic viability through patient, adaptive management by non-profit conservation organizations in partnership with private and public entities and community stakeholders. The primary management objective at the Garcia River Forest is to restore and protect a productive coastal California forest ecosystem and its associated biodiversity, while sustainably harvesting forest products. This project will measure progress towards meeting that objective by developing a monitoring program to measure both baseline and trends in conservation targets, which will help develop an understanding of changes in conservation targets over time, within a landscape-scale context, and inform future management activities in an adaptive management framework.

Our export strategies include interim and summary meetings held to communicate lessons learned and strategy effectiveness to Conservancy and partner staff working on sustainable forestry issues from the Pacific states (Alaska, British Columbia, Washington and Oregon), coordination with other forestry projects in the region, including Ellsworth Creek and Great Bear Rainforest, to identify common research and management issues, and a presentation of results and lessons learned to project partners and restoration colleagues at conferences and meetings.

Northwest Conservation Fund

In 2003, Patsy Bullitt Collins left The Nature Conservancy a generous bequest of $28.8 million dollars. A third of this Trust was used to create the Northwest Conservation Fund. The Northwest Conservation Fund supports conservation work in Alaska, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. The purpose of this Fund is to promote excellence in stewardship by supporting innovative and high-profile conservation activities that deliver on-the-ground results.

Links and Resources

Abating Threats to Groundwater- Dependent Ecosystems:

Groundwater Dependent Biodiversity
Download documents related to the Abating Threat to Groundwater- Dependent Ecosystems Collins Project on ConserveOnline.

Responding to Wind Power Energy at Scale:

Wildlife Safe Wind Power Article
Read an article on The Nature Conservancy's website to learn how wildlife safe wind power is possible.

Restoring Fire Adapted Forests:

The Nature Conservancy's Global Fire Initiative
The Conservancy's Global Fire Initiative is working with partners to find solutions that allow fire to play a role in conservation, benefiting nature and people.