Weston Brinkley, Forterra, wbrinkley@forterra.org (Presenter)
Dale Blahna, USDA Forest Service, dblahna@fs.fed.us


Research has traditionally been conducted in universities and professional research institutions. Building a collaborative research group that includes multiple disciplines and organizations can provide unique research questions, data, and results that have both conceptual and practical application. Such a framework builds efficacy within the community around research outcomes not usually possible with traditional approaches. This paper will review the process and experience of the Green Cities Research Alliance (GCRA). Initial results suggest the group has succeeded in connecting applied scientists with immediate practitioner needs to develop appropriate and interesting questions for data collection and analysis. For example, very little research exists describing the needs and impact of volunteer environmental stewards, even though they are potentially a major source of ecosystem restoration. The GCRA includes organizations supporting these volunteers that provided researchers with direct access to event information and other logistics needed to effectively reach these stewards. The Forest Service and universities provided research expertise to design research studies. Together they collected and analyzed, and reported the data. Another exciting value from this partnership includes the development and application of innovative assessment tools and immediate implementation of research results by practitioners. This research offers parks departments an opportunity to gather important baseline forest data never before collected. Research results have already contributed to park- scale management plans, providing information about forest characteristics that will help identify restoration needs and build backing for future funding. This collaborative approach being implemented by the GCRA can serve as a resource for other scientist-practitioner partnerships.