Clackamas Stewardship Partners
Date of Award
Master of Environmental Management (MEM)
Environmental Science and Management
United States. Forest Service, United States. National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, Forest management, Natural resources -- Management
Collaborative planning has been used as a tool to address wicked natural resource conflicts and engage those affected by federal land management agency decisions. The United States Forest Service (USFS) is mandated by law to involve the public on project-level planning. In Oregon, Forest Collaborative Groups have been engaging with the USFS to involve stakeholders who are concerned with the activities on National Forests. It is widely believed that these groups are reducing project-level appeals and objections (appeals); however, there is no empirical evidence to validate these beliefs. National Environmental Protect Act (NEPA) document data were collected from the USFS for 2006 to 2012. Data from harvesting and fuels treatment activities were selected for six National Forests in central and eastern Oregon. These projects are of concern due to the large cumulative effect they have on National Forests ecosystems and the surrounding communities. Potential cumulative effects can divide stakeholders, causing project-level appeals. To determine Forest Collaborative Group involvement, NEPA document lists were sent to each of the ten groups. The collaborative groups were asked to note if their group was involved in the planning process. Responses were compiled and odds ratio analysis was used to determine the likelihood of an appeal of a NEPA document over time. The results for eastern Oregon suggest that projects that have input from a Forest Collaborative Group are less likely to be appealed. Individually, the Deschutes, Ochoco, and Wallowa-Whitman results suggest the same. The Fremont-Winema and Malheur results suggest projects without collaborative group input are less likely to be appealed. There are many other factors that could be affecting appeal levels however. For example, broadening the definition of collaboration would most likely increase the number of NEPA documents with collaborative input and could decrease the likelihood of collaborative projects being appealed. Timber sale and fuel treatment projects are historically controversial and may be predisposed to be appealed or objected. In addition, external appeals and objections can stall a proposed project even where local support for a project exists. Finally, the Forest Collaborative Groups may be limited in their capacity to engage on multiple projects at any one time. Management implications of my research include finding a way to expand Forest Collaborative Group’s capacity to engage on multiple projects, continue to promote engagement between Forest Collaborative Groups and the USFS, allow for more controversial projects to be brought to the Forest Collaborative Groups, and financial support from the State of Oregon modeled after the Oregon Plan for Salmon and Watersheds should be set up to help the Forest Collaborative Groups expand their capacity to engage with the USFS on projects.
Summers, Brent M., "The Effectiveness of Forest Collaborative Groups at Reducing the Likelihood of Project Appeals and Objections in Eastern Oregon" (2014). Master of Environmental Management Project Reports. 41.