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Feather River Coordinated Resource Management Group


Northern California

Case description (read more)

The Feather River Coordinated Resource Management (CRM) group is a partnership of 22 public and private groups that formed in 1985 to collectively improve watershed health in the upper Feather River Watershed. It is one of the longest running CRM groups and one of the most successful in the state of California. The goal of the Feather River CRM is to improve watershed condition over time by reducing erosion, restoring meadow functions, improving water quality, and enhancing habitat for fish and wildlife. The CRM has completed over 50 watershed projects in the Feather River basin including studies and assessments, resource management plans, stream restoration projects, community outreach, and education efforts.




Primary partners

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
California Department of Fish and Game
California Department of Transportation
California Department of Parks and Recreation
California Department of Water Resources
California Regional Water Quality Control Board
Feather River Resource Conservation District
Feather River College
North Cal-Neva Resource Conservation and Development Area
Pacific Gas and Electric
Plumas County
Plumas County Community Development Commission
Plumas Corporation
Plumas Unified School District
Salmonid Restoration Federation
Trout Unlimited
University of California Cooperative Extension
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
USDA – Farm Services Agency
USDA – Natural Resources Conservation Service
USDA – USFS, Plumas National Forest

Primary objectives

  • To protect, maintain and enhance ecosystems and community stability in the Feather River Watershed through collaborative landowner participation.
  • To improve watershed condition over time by reducing erosion, restoring meadow functions, improving water quality, and enhancing habitat for fish and wildlife.


Year of initiation



What is fostering progress? (read more)

  • The group’s reliance on a process of consensus-based collaborative decision-making “every step of the way on every project” as critical for building trust between different people.
  • Using an adaptive-management process is another reason that CRM has made progress over time. Wilcox describes the CRM as, “a learning effort, adapting on the ground."
  • By demonstrating the real benefits of cooperation, the CRM has created a local atmosphere of increased trust that catalyzes additional community-building activities.
  • The presence of a neutral coordinator who is acceptable to all participants has also been a critical factor to the group’s progress.
  • The importance of communication “can’t be overstated.” Wilcox said it is critically important to “keep members in the loop to a sufficient level that they’ll always feel involved in the decision-making process and comfortable with the decisions that are made.”

What challenges were faced and how were they overcome? (read more)

  • One challenge the group has faced is maintaining funding for the coordinator role played by the Plumas Corporation.
  • Maintaining trust and consensus and managing growth and transitions have both been challenges for the group: it has been difficult at times to maintain high levels of communication and trust as the group has grown.
  • Feather River CRM has met the challenge of maintaining a consensus-based group over more than a decade by successfully incorporating new members into the process.
  • Feather River CRM’s focus on monitoring also creates challenges for the group and the CRM struggles with ensuring that all projects have an equal level of interest from agencies and other partners.
  • The success of Feather River CRM now posses a new challenge: requests for assistance from other groups that are just starting out or facing specific challenges is tapping staff time and energies.

What lessons can be drawn? (read more)

  • The role that the Plumas Corporation has played in staffing the CRM and implementing its agenda is an important lesson from this case: it is critical that parties seeking to establish a collaborative group like the Feather River CRM identify funds to pay a coordinator for at least the first two to four years, even if that coordinator is only a half-time position.
  • Effective communication has also been one of the keys to the group’s progress: one CRM staff member’s prime task to facilitate communication among CRM partners.
  • The CRM’s attention to procedural details and a consensus-based decision-making process, and in particular the use of neutral facilitation, has strengthened dialogues despite pre-existing and ongoing tensions between many of the groups involved.
  • The CRM’s collaborative, consensus-based approach has attracted the support of a diverse range of community residents.

Contact information

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