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Collaboration in a Forest Health Grant: Insights from the Los Gatos Creek Watershed Collaborative

Thursday, March 14th, 9:00am - 12:00pm

This webinar was an opportunity to learn about the Los Gatos Creek Watershed Collaborative from representatives at Santa Clara County FireSafe Council, Auten Resource Consulting, County of Santa Clara Parks, Ascent Environmental, CAL FIRE, and Midpeninsula Regional Open Space DistrictParticipants increased their knowledge of how to create successful partnerships and collaborations on Forest Health projects with insights and experiences from the Los Gatos Creek Watershed Collaborative.   

Stephen Harrington, Senior Project Manager at Santa Clara County FireSafe Council, provided an overview of the Los Gatos Creek Watershed Collaborative and the San Jose Water Company perspective. Michael Rhoades, Natural Resources Manager at Santa Clara County Parks, discussed the opportunities and efficiencies that result from a collaborative approach to forest health improvement. Bill Halleck, Field Resource Specialist at Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, discussed lessons learned from the partner perspective of the Los Gatos Creek Watershed Collaborative and share project successes. Ed Orre, Unit Forester- Division Chief – Santa Clara Unit, highlighted the endemic characteristics of the Bay Area and described some options and opportunities for management. Heather Blair, Principal at Ascent Environmental, explained the approach to identifying the most efficient regulatory compliance pathways for concurrent implementation of vegetation treatments by multiple partners across a landscape.

Pacific Veg Map

CWPP for Santa Clara County

CAL FIRE Mapper of the Treatment Polygons Across LGCWC

Webinar Agenda
Time Item
9:00am Webinar begins
  Stephen Harrington: Introduction to the Los Gatos Creek Watershed Collaborative, Common Goals
  Michael Rhoades: Collaboration in a Forest Health Grant: Insights from the Los Gatos Creek Watershed Collaborative
  Bill Halleck: Successful Partnerships and Collaborations on Forest Health
  Stephen Harrington: San Jose Water Company Perspective
  Ed Orre: Cultural and regulatory context for the Los Gatos Collaborative Forest Health Project
  Heather Blair: Regulatory Compliance Strategy for Landscape-level, Collaborative Implementation
10:43am Break
  Chloe Knowd: Use of ArcGIS Field Maps and Dashboards as Tools for Forest Health and Fuels Reduction
  Stephen Harrington: Photos of the Forest Health Grant Work, before and after

Webinar ends


Stephen Harrington, Senior Project Manager, Santa Clara County FireSafe Council

Stephen Harrington is a Senior Project Manager with the Santa Clara County FireSafe Council and manages two Forest Health Grants for the Los Gatos Creek Watershed Collaborative. Stephen oversees the administration, planning and implementation of the Forest Health Grant program for the collaborative that includes Santa Clara County Parks, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District, and San Jose Water Company. The second Forest Health Grant also includes two private property owners as partners. Altogether, the LGCWC has $14 million worth of Forest Health Grants to treat nearly 1800 acres of projects across 50,000 acres of watersheds in the eastern Santa Cruz Mountains.

Before joining the SCCFSC in 2021, Stephen worked in non-profit land conservation and as an environmental consultant in Santa Cruz, the Sierra Nevada, and Southern California. He earned his BA in Environmental Studies and Economics from UC Santa Cruz and his MES from the Yale School of the Environment.

Michael Rhoades, Natural Resources Manager, Santa Clara County Parks

Michael Rhoades is the Natural Resources Manager for Santa Clara County Parks, a 52,000-acre regional park system located in the south San Francisco Bay Area. Michael has enjoyed over 20 years working as an environmental planner, stormwater manager, CEQA consultant and most recently as land manager. As a life-long Californian, Michael has developed and implemented environmental improvement projects in the Lake Tahoe Basin, Central Coast, Santa Cruz Mountains and San Francisco Bay Area. Michael has spent the past five years learning about the benefits of good fire, earning his Wildland Firefighter Type 1 certification and becoming a California Burn Boss trainee.  Michael lives in Ben Lomond in Santa Cruz County with his best friend/wife and latest rescue dog. When not working, Michael and can be found camping, hiking, snowboarding, volunteering or sitting under the stars beside a good campfire.

Bill Halleck, Field Resource Specialist, Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District

Bill’s focus at Midpen is on fire resiliency and habitat restoration. He comes to us from the City of Menlo Park where he was a Park Supervisor overseeing the maintenance of 400 acres of parks, open space, right of ways, sports fields, lakes, ponds, playgrounds, school sites, and associated parkland facilities.  Most recently, he was an acting project manager in capital projects and providing environmental permit coordination with federal, state, and local resource agencies.  Bill also has extensive experience in resource management and spent several years working for Ecological Concerns Inc. as a Senior Project Manager/Landscape Designer, the City of San Jose as Associate Landscape Architect,  the Habitat Restoration Group as a Revegetation Specialist, and Zetner Planning & Ecology working on wetland and riparian mitigation projects. Bill has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Rhode Island in Resource Development/Plant Science/Landscape Design and a graduate from the Conway School of Landscape Design.

Ed Orre, Unit Forester- Division Chief – Santa Clara Unit 

Ed Orre received a B.S. in Forestry (Production Option) from Humboldt State University in 1982 and became a California Registered Professional Forester in 1986.  His experience prior to 2000 was primarily in the private sector in Northern California working for a small tractor logging firm,  a sawmill, a USFS reforestation research center, consulting forestry firms, and industrial timberland owners performing a wide variety of forest management activities including forest inventories, reforestation, herbicide treatments, slash burning, THP preparation, and timber harvest/ road building administration.  In 2000, he began working for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection at Soquel Demonstration State Forest performing general forest management activities much like in the private sector but also supporting CAL FIRE’s wildfire suppression mission.  In 2014 he promoted to the Santa Clara Unit as the Unit Forester focusing more on wildfire prevention and mitigation collaborations, prescribed burn planning, grant management, and CEQA compliance for projects.

Heather Blair, Principal at Ascent Environmental

Heather Blair is a senior environmental scientist with nearly 20 years of experience managing complex environmental projects throughout California. Her practice includes natural resource management, CEQA and NEPA compliance, and environmental policy and regulation. Having prepared multiple statewide Program EIRs, including the CalVTP Program EIR, Heather is a specialist in landscape-scale environmental review and strategic CEQA streamlining. She assists public agencies and private entities by identifying the most efficient pathways for environmental regulatory compliance to expedite implementation of wildfire resilience projects.

Chloe Knowd, Assistant Forester III, Auten Resource Consulting

Chloe Knowd is an Assistant Forester for Auten Resource Consulting, a forestry consulting company based in the Santa Cruz Mountains. She began her career at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2016 while studying Environmental Management and Protection and working in the watershed program at Swanton Pacific Ranch. Post-graduation in 2020 she worked seasonally for the Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit and the Cal Fire Soquel Demonstration State Forest, where her passion for forestry began. Chloe was hired by Auten Resource Consulting in Spring of 2022 and currently provides project support by assisting in preparation of CalVTP PSAs, conducting contractor and permit compliance, field layout, GIS mapping and ArcGIS Online application developments.


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