First Advisor

Craig Shinn

Date of Publication

Winter 2-28-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Earth, Environment, & Society


Earth, Environment, & Society




Northwest Forest Plan (U.S.), Forest management -- Northwestern States -- Planning, Forest conservation -- Northwestern States -- Planning, Forest management -- Social aspects, Forest management -- Economic aspects, Northern spotted owl -- Habitat



Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 178 pages)


The conflict in the Pacific Northwest between competing visions of how federal forests should be managed resulted in a political stalemate in the early 1990s. The Northwest Forest Plan (NWFP) was initiated to resolve the demands for maintaining ecosystem processes and biological diversity with the social and economic needs for timber harvest. The foundation for the plan rested with the development of ecosystem management. The intent of this research is to explore the events which led up to the adoption of the NWFP, how it was implemented by the US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management and the subsequent reactions to and consequences of the plan.

The primary research consisted of thirty-eight semi-structured interviews with individuals responsible for the development of the initial plan, those tasked with implementing the plan and current federal agency personnel from the land management agencies and regulatory agencies. With the use of thematic analysis, key meanings were captured as expressed by the interviewees. The data was analyzed using institutional theory, capturing the organizational relations within the organizational field of the land management agencies.

Research findings suggest that the NWFP was unsuccessful in meeting the goal of addressing the social and economic issues as well as the goals for ecosystem management. This dissertation explores the organizational practices and cultural meanings that led to the final instantiation of the plan. It seeks to shed light on the reasons why these goals were not met and how future forest plans can move beyond the current stalemate between conservation and preservation.


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