Origins of the old-growth forest conflict (1971-1989) : a new model for resource allocation Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/m326m650d

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  • The old-growth forest conflict is part of the evolving debate over how to use the federal public lands. This study documents the origins and development of the old-growth issue through 1989. The controversy began in the early 1970s when scientists initiated studies of old-growth forests and northern spotted owls, and the land stewardship policies of the U.S. Forest Service were challenged by both preservation and timber industry interests. This thesis identifies the participants in the old-growth issue along with their views concerning the physical attributes of old-growth forests, values associated with these forests, and the appropriate use of old-growth forests. The timber industry viewed old-growth as a raw material for mills while preservationists primarily valued old-growth as wildlife habitat. The conflict was complicated by the use of different parameters for definitions of old-growth, land ownership, land-use, geographic area, forest type and year of data collection. All sides in the issue tended to view the federal resource management agencies, particularly the Forest Service, as biased or incompetent. Preservation and timber industry interests, agency personnel, and federal judges felt only Congress could provide a solution to the conflict. The various views of old-growth affected behaviors that influenced policy development to advance different ideas of appropriate old-growth use. Preservationists were very effective at using administrative appeals and lawsuits of agency decisions to create a regional timber supply crisis in 1989 and move the issue from a regional level to the national level. The increased level of intensity of the conflict forced both preservation and timber interests to form new coalitions to advance their agendas through their supporters in Congress. Based on the interactions of old-growth issue participants within and among the four elements of competing interest groups, congressional committees and subcommittees, the federal courts, and the federal natural resource management agencies, a new model of policy development "the wobbly diamond" was designed to analyze issue participants' behaviors and the policy development process. Although there was no explicit policy shift at the end of 1989 when Congress passed legislation relevant to the conflict, the result of the overall policy process during 1989 was a dramatic decrease in the amount of federal timber sold and a situation created wherein Congress would be involved in the issue for many years to come.
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