Graduate Project

From forest plan development to implementation: how the forest service's publics are changing

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  • Successful implementation of a forest plan depends in large part on 1) the quality of that plan, 2) the amount of public ownership in it and 3) the ability of the Forest Service to effectively involve the public in the process of putting it into action. The first two'points are of little help now. A large proportion of the National Forests have already completed their forest plans; the rest are soon to be completed. As a result, the last point becomes most critical. The purpose of this study was to yield information on the interests and behaviors of publics during plan implementation so that those forests implementing their plans can do it successfully with public support. In this study, some factors in the forest planning environment that may affect forests that are implementing or about to begin implementing their forest plans are discussed. This study focuses specifically on how the roles of public interest groups may be changing between the development and implementation phases of forest planning.- It examines those forests that have completed their forest plans as required by the National Forest Management Act of 1976 and are now in the process of implementing them. The experiences on those forests, taken as a whole, can foretell what may happen on other forests that will soon implement plans. Questions to be answered deal with how the publics involved in forest planning are changing as the Forest Service moves from development to implementation of the plans and what groups are likely to be most involved in the Forest Service's planning processes in the future. The Forest Service's publics have more than one route to use in pursuing their interests. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) (42 U.S.C. 4321 as amended) process provides one route and is the concern in this paper. When that one fails, or for some reason the groups do not use it, administrative appeals or litigation are often used. These processes are less satisfactory both from the point of view of the Forest Service and the public. They are costly and cause a tearing down, rather than a building up, of communications. This study is chiefly based on a survey of National Forest planners. Little written work is available on this very narrowly defined problem except as it falls into the general area of public involvement. An example of an study that looks at forest planning participants from empirical research is one by Jo Ellen Force and Kevin L. Williams (1989). That study looked at participants using a survey of the actual participants. This study relies on forest planners who are close to the process. It looks at forests across the National Forest System with the exception of Region Six (the Pacific Northwest Region). That region is just now beginning to implement plans with only a few out as of this writing.
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