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Is There a Place for Legislating Place-Based Collaborative Forestry Proposals?: Examining the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery Act Pilot Project


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In 1993, a group of national forest stakeholders, the Quincy Library Group, crafted a proposal that intended to reduce wildfire risk, protect the California spotted owl (Strix occidentalis occidentalis), restore watersheds, and enhance community stability by ensuring a predictable supply of timber for area sawmills and biomass for energy plants. The Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery Act of 1998 codified this proposal, directing the USDA Forest Service to conduct forest treatments on 40, 000–60, 000 acres per year by creating defensible fuel profile zones and logging by group-and individual tree-selection methods. The law also designated an Independent Science Panel to review monitoring studies, administrative studies, and research to assess efficacy of the implementation and achievement of goals. Although several goals were achieved, implementation fell short of treatment and volume goals, and evidence was lacking to make conclusive judgments about environmental impacts. Shortcomings were due to differing interpretations of the Act’s prescriptive intent, changes in management direction, compounding economic factors, appeals and litigation, variation in site-specific forest conditions, and variation in approaches among national forests and districts. Most notable was a lack of monitoring of the treatment effects on California spotted owl populations and other environmental concerns. These findings suggest that attempts to legislate prescriptive, collaboratively developed proposals may not account for the complex biophysical, management, social, and economic contexts within which national forest management occurs. These findings also suggest that current national forest policies and directives promoting collaboration should also be accompanied by a commitment to monitoring and adaptive management.
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Is There a Place for Legislating Place-Based
Collaborative Forestry Proposals?: Examining
the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group
Forest Recovery Act Pilot Project
Antony S. Cheng, R.J. Gutie´rrez, Scott Cashen, Dennis R. Becker,
John Gunn, Amy Merrill, David Ganz, Michael Liquori,
David S. Saah, and William Price
In 1993, a group of national forest stakeholders, the Quincy Library Group, crafted a proposal that intended
to reduce wildfire risk, protect the California spotted owl (Strix occidentalis occidentalis), restore watersheds, and
enhance community stability by ensuring a predictable supply of timber for area sawmills and biomass for
energy plants. The Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery Act of 1998 codified this proposal,
directing the USDA Forest Service to conduct forest treatments on 40,00060,000 acres per year by creating
defensible fuel profile zones and logging by group- and individual tree-selection methods. The law also
designated an Independent Science Panel to review monitoring studies, administrative studies, and research to
assess efficacy of the implementation and achievement of goals. Although several goals were achieved,
implementation fell short of treatment and volume goals, and evidence was lacking to make conclusive
judgments about environmental impacts. Shortcomings were due to differing interpretations of the Act’s
prescriptive intent, changes in management direction, compounding economic factors, appeals and litigation,
variation in site-specific forest conditions, and variation in approaches among national forests and districts. Most
notable was a lack of monitoring of the treatment effects on California spotted owl populations and other
environmental concerns. These findings suggest that attempts to legislate prescriptive, collaboratively developed
proposals may not account for the complex biophysical, management, social, and economic contexts within which
national forest management occurs. These findings also suggest that current national forest policies and directives
promoting collaboration should also be accompanied by a commitment to monitoring and adaptive management.
Keywords: collaboration, national forest policy, monitoring, USDA Forest Service
Legal and political conflicts over the
management of western national
forests in the early 1990s led to de-
creases in timber production to protect three
spotted owl subspecies (California [Strix oc-
cidentalis occidentalis], Mexican [Strix occi-
dentalis lucida], and Northern [Strix occiden-
talis caurina]) and other species associated
with old-growth forests (Yaffee 1994). Esti-
mates of job losses and economic disrup-
tions in rural areas with industries depen-
dent on national forest timber (US
Department of Agriculture [USDA] Forest
Service 1992, US Department of the Inte-
rior 1992) prompted a small group of adver-
saries in Quincy, California, to collaborate
on mutual actions for maintaining timber
production while protecting forest ecosys-
tems and owl populations. The Quincy Li-
brary Group (QLG) was born from this di-
alogue and included environmentalists, the
forest products industry, local economic de-
velopment organizations, and state and fed-
eral land management agencies from the
area (Little 1995, Marston 2001). In August
1993, the QLG adopted a Community Sta-
bility Proposal recommending a 5-year pro-
gram of work on national forestlands in
northeastern California (Terhune and Ter-
hune 1998). The QLG Community Stabil-
ity Proposal was intended to be a short-term
strategy for maintaining a supply of timber
to local sawmills while guidelines were being
Received May 28, 2015; accepted December 11, 2015; published online February 4, 2016.
Affiliations: Antony S. Cheng (, Colorado State University, Department of Forest and Rangeland Stewardship, Fort Collins, CO. R.J. Gutie´rrez
(, University of Minnesota. Scott Cashen (, Consultant. Dennis R. Becker (, University of Minnesota;
current affiliation: University of Idaho. John Gunn (, Spatial Informatics Group. Amy Merrill (, Stillwater Sciences. David Ganz
(, Spatial Informatics Group and US Agency for International Development. Michael Liquori (, Sound Watershed. David
S. Saah (, Spatial Informatics Group and University of San Francisco. William Price (, Pinchot Institute for Conservation.
Acknowledgments: We thank the Pinchot Institute for Conservation for logistic support and managing our review. We thank the many stakeholders for sharing their
views with our panel. The USDA Forest Service staff was helpful throughout the process, especially Colin Dillingham. R.J.G. thanks the University of Minnesota
Agricultural Research Station for support (MIN-41-036).
494 Journal of Forestry July 2016
J. For. 114(4):494–504
Copyright © 2016 Society of American Foresters
formulated for protecting the California
spotted owl and old-growth forests.
This proposal was the basis for the
Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group
Forest Recovery Act of 1998 (hereafter, the
“Act”), which established a pilot project
(hereafter the “Project”) on local area na-
tional forests. Specifically, the Act directed
the USDA Forest Service to conduct forest
treatments on 40,00060,000 acres per
year by creating defensible fuel profile zones
(DFPZs) and applying group- and individ-
ual tree-selection methods. Forest treat-
ments were intended to promote the devel-
opment of resilient forest conditions,
protect spotted owl activity centers, and pro-
tect water and aquatic resources, while pro-
viding a sustainable flow of timber to local
The Act was one of the first instances in
which a proposal from a collaborative stake-
holder group to influence federal land man-
agement was legislated into statute (Colburn
2002). It set precedents for specificity of sil-
vicultural prescriptions, acreage targets, and
the magnitude of public financial invest-
ment (Owen 2002). Although the QLG was
celebrated for forging agreements among
formerly opposing parties, it was also criti-
cized for giving undue influence to a vocal,
local minority of stakeholders who favored
continued federal timber harvesting at a
time when other policies and court orders
were restricting such activities (Blumberg
and Knuffke 1998, McCloskey 1999, Hib-
bard and Madsen 2003).
The Act also required an independent
Scientific Review Panel (hereafter “Panel,”
the authors of this paper) to evaluate the ef-
ficacy of the Project in meeting the goals of
the Act [16 USC 2104 note, Pub. L. 105-
277 § 401(k)(1)]. This article summarizes
our evaluation of the Project and examines
implications for current and future laws and
policies advancing collaborative proposals
for national forest management.
Overview of the Herger-
Feinstein Quincy Library Group
Forest Recovery Act
The Act was introduced by Congress-
man Wally Herger (R-CA, 2nd District) in
the US House of Representatives and Sena-
tor Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) in the US Sen-
ate and was signed into law as part of the
federal fiscal year 1998 Omnibus Consoli-
dated and Emergency Appropriations bill
(16 USC 2104 note, Pub. L. No. 105-277 §
401, 112 Stat. 2681-231). The Act autho-
rized the implementation of the Commu-
nity Stability Proposal as a pilot project for
1.53 million acres of the Lassen and Plumas
National Forests and the Sierraville Ranger
District of the Tahoe National Forest in
northeastern California (Figure 1). The Act
was reauthorized twice to extend the Project
time frame. Federal fiscal year (FY) 2012 was
the final year of the Project.
Implementation of the Act began in
FY1999 and was overseen by supervisors of
the three national forests and administered
by two staff teams, one for Project imple-
mentation and one for Project monitoring.
Annual reports summarizing the previous
year’s treatments and accomplishments,
funding and expenditures, and monitoring
activities and results were submitted to Con-
A total of $324.7 million was appro-
priated for the Project. After subtraction of
administrative costs, $293.3 million was
spent to treat 242,000 acres between
FY1999 and FY2012.
Independent Science Review
Panel and Review Methods
The Panel’s interdisciplinary team were
experts in fire and forest ecology and man-
agement, social science, wildlife biology,
and watershed science convened by the Pin-
chot Institute for Conservation and were
contracted by the Forest Service’s Pacific
Southwest Research Station to carry out the
independent science review specified in the
Act. The Panel used the program evaluation
and reporting approach employed by the
Government Accountability Office (2012)
to accommodate the contract agreement to
use existing data and information and to
provide a report within a relatively short
time. Evidence of performance was derived
from two sources: data and reports gener-
ated by the Forest Service monitoring team
and research studies conducted by other or-
ganizations and individuals, including peer-
reviewed research and “gray” literature
(publicly available non-peer-reviewed writ-
ten reports). Following the Government Ac-
countability Office framework, the Panel
also sought to understand the contextual
factors affecting Project implementation
and outcomes by conducting interviews
with agency personnel, QLG members, and
individuals from organizations outside of
the QLG who closely observed the Project.
In November 2007, the Panel visited
Project sites in all forests. During the visit,
interviews were conducted with the USDA
Forest Service personnel responsible for
oversight, implementation, and monitoring
of Project activities. These included line of-
ficers (forest supervisors and district rang-
ers), supervisor and district office staff as-
signed to the Project, and resource
specialists. Also interviewed were active
QLG participants, key environmental and
industry stakeholders, local elected officials,
and community leaders. Each group was
questioned about the mechanics and execu-
tion of the Project. Panel meetings were held
each day to discuss the interviews and to
summarize results pertaining to implemen-
tation and outcomes. These meetings also
provided insight into the social context of
the Project (Gutie´rrez et al. 2015). The For-
est Service was provided with an initial
“phase I” report (Pinchot Institute for Con-
servation 2008). This report included the
following: initial observations of the activi-
ties and impacts associated with the Project;
a detailed discussion of deficiencies in Proj-
Management and Policy Implications
The Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery Act is one of the first modern examples of
“place-based” legislation mandating national forest management prescriptions and acreage targets to
stabilize forest products employment and businesses while reducing the risk of forest ecosystems to
catastrophic wildfires and conserving imperiled species. However, differing interpretations of prescriptive
intent by managers and stakeholders, changing management direction and economic conditions at regional
and local scales, and variation in site-specific conditions and implementation approaches can confound full
implementation of national policy mandates, leading to unrealized goals and unfulfilled expectations. The
dynamic social, political, economic, and ecological contexts in which national forest management occurs
require a degree of flexibility and adaptive management based on continuous assessment and monitoring
involving a diverse range of stakeholders. Current and prospective place-based policies should include
provisions and resources to support collaborative adaptive management and steer away from mandating
management prescriptions and performance targets.
Journal of Forestry July 2016 495
ect monitoring we uncovered; and recom-
mendations for addressing those deficien-
The Panel conducted a second site visit
in March 2013 after the Project was com-
pleted to compile and review monitoring re-
ports and research studies. The same indi-
viduals and groups interviewed in 2007 were
targeted for a second interview, as were new
individuals associated with the Project. For
example, both current and past line officers
were interviewed. There were two primary
objectives for interviews. The first objective
was for the Panel to understand the informa-
tion in the final monitoring reports, includ-
ing any changes made to methods and anal-
yses since our previous visit. The second
objective was to assess what was learned
from the Project, including the degree to
which community stability and ecological
goals were achieved. To accomplish this ob-
jective, participants were asked their opin-
ions about the specific goals of the Project
(e.g., wildfire risk reduction, spotted owl re-
covery, riparian and watershed manage-
ment, and economic stability). They were
also asked about expenditures and priorities,
the agency’s management of the Project, and
the role of place-based collaboration in in-
fluencing national forest management.
A hierarchical framework composed of
goals, objectives, and indicators was used to
facilitate the organization and evaluation of
the information compiled by the Panel (for
details, see Pinchot Institute for Conserva-
tion 2013). Goals were defined as statements
of broad intent and aspirations without any
quantitative metrics. Objectives for each goal
were derived from the QLG’s Community
Stability Proposal, the Act, and the Pacific
Southwest Research Station’s request for
proposals. Objectives included quantitative
metrics, such as acres treated over the life of
the Project and cost per acre. Indicators were
discrete attributes or variables that could be
measured or described. Indicators for each
objective were based on the monitoring
strategy, which had been outlined in the Act
and in the final environmental impact state-
ment for the Project (USDA Forest Service
Indicator data were obtained from data
sets, monitoring reports, and peer-reviewed
papers provided by the Forest Service. These
data were supplemented by information
gathered during our interviews. The Panel
was organized into five subject-area teams to
address fire and forest ecology and manage-
ment, socioeconomics, wildlife biology, and
watershed science. Subteams functioned in-
dependently and provided analyses and con-
clusions for each Project goal. Inferences
were debated among subteam members and
then with the full Panel to ensure transpar-
ency and dependability of findings, as well as
to identify issues common to multiple sub-
ject areas. A draft report was submitted it to
the Forest Service for review and comment
in July 2013. The final report was completed
in December 2013 and submitted to the
agency, members of Congress, and congres-
sional staff (Pinchot Institute for Conserva-
tion 2013). Key findings from the report are
summarized in the following sections.
To What Extent Did the Project
Achieve the Intended Goals?
The pace and scale of the Project
treatments did not meet expectations
for wood fiber supply or the number
of acres treated
The treatment goal was not consistently
met. The Forest Service defines “accom-
plished treatments” as Projects offered and
sold in a fiscal year. Accomplished treatments
met the 40,000-acre goal in FY 2001 and FY
2004, but otherwise never exceeded 63% of
Figure 1. Location of the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group Forest Recovery Act project
496 Journal of Forestry July 2016
this goal (Figure 2). During the 13-year span of
the Project, 242,000 acres were treated.
Moreover, the distribution of treat-
ment types did not meet the original goals of
the Act. The majority of the acres treated
were derived from mechanical treatments to
create DFPZs, followed by prescribed burn-
ing in DFPZs. Group selection, which was
emphasized in the Act and the Community
Stability Proposal as the primary source of saw-
log production, was implemented on only
4,452 acres. The minimum goal for group se-
lection treatments was 8,713 acres per year
(113,000 acres for all years of the Project).
Group selection declined substantially after
FY2005, whereas individual tree selection in-
creased during the latter years of the Project.
The final environmental impact state-
ment completed in 1999 for the Project es-
timated that the Project was capable of pro-
ducing approximately 237,630 thousand
cubic feet (CCF) (286.3 million board feet)
of sawlogs and approximately 189,170 CCF
of biomass annually. In comparison, sawlog
production in the Project area was approxi-
mately 227,500 CCF in FY1990; produc-
tion declined to 32,500 CCF in FY1998 (no
estimates for biomass production for these
years were available). Actual annual produc-
tion from the Project averaged 28 and 37%
of the estimated annual sawlog and biomass
volumes, respectively (Figure 3). A total of
856,210 CCF in sawlogs and 907,426 CCF
in biomass were produced over the life of the
Project (USDA Forest Service 2012). In ad-
dition, as indicated in Figure 3, production
of sawlogs and biomass varied widely from
year to year. Average annual treatment costs
were $1,212/acre (approximately $293.3
million to treat all 242,000 acres). We were
not able to obtain costs for appeals and liti-
gation. Revenue generated from the Project
was $23.8 million.
The Project did not achieve the
Community Stability Proposal goals
of employment and community eco-
nomic stability
Based on the socioeconomic monitoring
studies conducted by Jack Faucett Associates
(2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011) and
available data from USDA Forest Service da-
tabases, we found that the Project was un-
able to stem the rise in unemployment in
local communities, thereby not attaining
one of the key goals of the QLG’s Commu-
nity Stability Proposal. Between 1999 and
2009, forest products employment declined
60% from 1,741 to 701 jobs in local coun-
ties; no estimates were available for FY2011
(Jack Faucett Associates 2011). Since 1999,
four sawmills and one woody biomass co-
generation power plant closed in the project
area. However, this decline was also proba-
bly influenced by the long-term and ongo-
ing decline in forest products employment
in the region, irrespective of this Project, and
the 2007–2009 global financial crisis and re-
lated housing market downturn (Morgan et
al. 2012). We did not analyze the causal fac-
tors affecting regional employment because
these have been shown to be complex (Stim-
son et al. 2011). Even before implementa-
tion of the Project, forest products-related
employment was declining in these local
communities (Jack Faucett Associates
2011). The exception was in small sole
proprietor businesses and private contrac-
tors (e.g., timber felling, vegetation man-
agement, and log-hauling operations).
Employment associated with these entities
increased from 299 to 333 jobs during
course of the Project (Jack Faucett Associ-
ates 2011).
Beyond employment, local counties
and communities in this area have histori-
cally relied on timber sale receipts to fund
public services. Between 1986 and 1998,
timber sale receipts in the five-county area
(Lassen, Plumas, Shasta, Sierra, and Te-
hama) averaged $14.7 million annually. Re-
ceipts declined by more than 60% (to $5.8
million) between 2002 and 2011; no data
Figure 2. Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Act Forest Recovery Act project accomplishments
by vegetation management activity, FY1999–2011 (USDA Forest Service 2012).
Figure 3. Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Act Forest Recovery Act project sawlogs and
biomass volume sold, FY1999–2011 (USDA Forest Service 2012).
Journal of Forestry July 2016 497
were available for 1999–2001 (Jack Faucett
Associates 2011).
Implementation of fuel management
treatments typically reduced local-
ized fire severity and had other ben-
efits for fire suppression activities
During the Project time frame, 20 wildfires
occurred within areas where DFPZ treat-
ments had been implemented. Assessments
of fire behavior for several wildland fires dur-
ing the Project suggested that DFPZs con-
sistently resulted in reduced fire severity
(Murphy et al. 2010) such as reduced flame
lengths, fire severity, average conditional
burn probabilities, and fire size, which cor-
roborated field and modeling studies for Si-
erra Nevada forests (Stephens and Moghad-
das 2005, Stephens et al. 2009, Moghaddas
et al. 2010, Safford et al. 2012). The influ-
ence on fire size was most notable near or in
DFPZs; typically, fires were contained
within 10 acres. DFPZs also enhanced sup-
pression efforts by serving as anchor points
for fireline construction, backfiring opera-
tions, and safe movement of firefighting per-
sonnel (Dailey et al. 2008, Murphy et al.
Silvicultural treatments, where im-
plemented, appeared to result in all-
age, multistory, and fire-resilient
stands, but it is uncertain how these
treatments affected ecological integ-
rity at the landscape level
The Act required uneven-aged forest man-
agement prescriptions to achieve a desired
future condition of all-age, multistory, fire-
resilient forests. Large trees (30 in. dbh)
were normally protected from harvest, but
mean canopy cover was reduced from 48 to
33% (Bigelow et al. 2012a). Treatments ini-
tially reduced the number of snags, particu-
larly in places where they posed safety haz-
ards. The volume of large down wood (logs
10 in. in large-end diameter and 10 ft
long) at most sites was below target levels
and declined further after treatments be-
cause of mechanical destruction or pre-
scribed burning (Bigelow et al. 2012a).
Computational fire modeling yielded
predictions of a decrease in mean condi-
tional burn probability as well as a decrease
in the potential for active and passive crown
fires during moderate and extreme weather
conditions for up to 5 years after treatment
based on the observed forest structure (Big-
elow et al. 2012a). The models also showed
that treatments did not decrease predicted
surface fire behavior. Because group selec-
tions are not specifically designed to meet
fire objectives, they had low average crowns
across stands, which are prone to scorch-re-
lated mortality for 20 years based on com-
putational simulations. However, in east-
side forests, fragmentation created by group
selection may make the landscape less sus-
ceptible to crown fire (Bigelow et al. 2012b).
Beyond stand-level metrics of forest
structure and predicted fire behavior, there
was a paucity of evidence about how treat-
ments affected landscape-scale measures of
ecological integrity. Stephens et al. (2014)
found that although small mammal and
songbird populations were largely unaf-
fected by treatments in a portion of the Proj-
ect area, California owl populations declined
by 43%. Collins et al. (2011) conducted an
analysis of fire dynamics from a landscape-
scale fuel treatment project outside the Proj-
ect area, but using silvicultural methods sim-
ilar to those used in the Project. Burn
probabilities were considerably lower for up
to 20 years after treatment compared with
those for untreated areas. A similar land-
scape-scale assessment was not conducted
for Project treatments.
California spotted owl nest and roost
sites were protected, but the Project
failed to assess adverse impacts to the
owl population resulting from treat-
At the time the Act passed, the effects of fuel
reduction and group selection treatments on
California spotted owls were unknown.
Consequently, monitoring and evaluating
these effects was paramount to address legal
and public concerns. Unlike other objectives
in the Project monitoring plan for assessing
adverse impacts, there was substantial scien-
tific information available to assess effects on
California spotted owls. Demographic rates
of reproduction, survival, and population
change were estimated using state-of-the art
analytical techniques (Keane et al. 2010,
Connor et al. 2013). Although these base-
line data were available to the Project mon-
itoring team, they were not used to make
critical assessments of adverse environmen-
tal impacts on California spotted owls
throughout the Project time frame, despite
an estimated 78% decline in the regional
owl population between 1992 and 2010
(Keane et al. 2010). Therefore, the relation-
ship between the regional population de-
cline and the Project remains unknown, al-
though the study of Stephens et al. (2014)
demonstrates a decline in owl populations
where Project treatments occurred. Al-
though it is possible that other factors also
could have contributed to project areawide
declines in owls (e.g., high-severity fire or
short-term negative weather effects on re-
production), these effects were not evaluated
in a comprehensive way so that the only re-
liable inference (sensu Romesburg 1981)
about treatment effects stems from the work
of Stephens et al. (2014).
The Project monitoring team cited two
reasons that this analysis was not completed:
the size and precise location of treatments
were not known, which prevented analysis
of treatment effects; and the existing agency
vegetation maps for the Project area were
inaccurate, and new maps were not created
in time to conduct the necessary analysis.
Water and soil resource impacts from
Project activities were minimal at
the site scale, but cumulative effects
were unknown
Based on annual monitoring reports, best
management practices (BMP) were consis-
tently applied and found to protect aquatic
and watershed resources at the site scale. The
Project also funded watershed restoration
actions, including the restoration of approx-
imately 10,300 acres of wet meadow habitat
and riparian areas, the elimination of 138
miles of road in riparian areas, and the res-
toration or elimination of 179 stream cross-
ings. The effects of timber harvesting on
water resources were monitored at only four
sites. Increased sedimentation was reported
for three of the four sites, leading to immediate
impacts to aquatic macroinvertebrates in
two sites. Monitoring the following year
found recovery of the macroinvertebrates
to preharvest levels in both sites (Mayes
and Roby 2013). Temporal and spatial
watershed effects of Project activities on
water quality and water quantity were not
Treatments attained high compliance
with three out of four site-level soil produc-
tivity standards as specified in the Land and
Resource Management Plans for each na-
tional forest involved in the Project (Young
et al. 2011). The soil productivity standard
lacking high compliance was large woody
debris; the percentage of units in compliance
with standards (3 downed logs/acre) fell
from 69.2% pretreatment to 43.0% post-
treatment. Group selection resulted in statis-
tically significant more soil compaction,
topsoil displacement, and large woody de-
bris reduction than other treatments (Young
498 Journal of Forestry July 2016
et al. 2011). Beyond these site-level assess-
ments of BMP compliance and treatment
impacts, cumulative impact assessments of
activities on watershed functioning across
the Project area and over the Project time
frame were not conducted.
Although planning reduced some ad-
verse environmental impacts, im-
pacts to species of concern were un-
certain because scientific evaluations
were uneven, ineffective, or not com-
There were many examples of sensitive bird
and plant species or their habitats being pro-
tected adequately during treatment activities
because of mitigation efforts (Burnett et al.
2012). However, insufficient monitoring
design precluded determination of adverse
impacts caused by treatments to focal species
or species guilds, specifically the American
marten (Martes americana) and amphibians.
For example, the Record of Decision for the
Project’s final environmental impact state-
ment specified no more than a 10% reduc-
tion in suitable habitat for old forest-depen-
dent species relative to a baseline (USDA
Forest Service 1999). Relative to this base-
line, there was about a 2.2% loss of old forest
due to Project activities, whereas wildfires
ultimately contributed an additional 15.5%
loss of old forest (Dillingham 2013). Suit-
able habitat for American marten, a species
of concern in the northern Sierra Nevada,
has been linked to late seral stage forest (Zie-
linski et al. 2013). The small percentage of
loss from treatments suggested that there
was a low risk of impact to American marten
abundance and distribution. However, eval-
uation of the overall impacts to martens is
unknown because the spatial configuration
of habitat lost was not analyzed. This analy-
sis is necessary to gauge the relative effect of
treatments and fires on habitat connectivity,
an attribute critical to American marten per-
sistence (Hargis et al. 1999).
What Factors Affected Project
Implementation and Outcomes?
We used interviews to further under-
stand factors that affected Project imple-
mentation and outcomes and to place the
Project’s activities within broader ecological,
social, economic, and policy contexts. Five
key themes emerged from our interviews: (1)
there were differing interpretations concern-
ing the prescriptive intent of the Act; (2)
there were changes in regional management
direction affecting treatment location and
design; (3) there were changing regional and
national economic conditions compound-
ing declines in the local forest industry; (4)
there were appeals and litigation affecting
the pace and scale of implementation; and
(5) there was variation in forest conditions
and uneven implementation of the Project
across the three national forests.
Differing interpretations concerning
the prescriptive intent the Act
The Act has been seen as being rigidly pre-
scriptive by mandating silvicultural activities
on a fixed range of acres annually (Owen
2002). However, Forest Service line officers
and staff, QLG members, and individuals
with groups not participating in the QLG
expressed different perspectives on the Act’s
prescriptive intent. For example, QLG
members generally saw the Act as providing
authority and resources to increase the pace
and scale of treatments that Forest Service
staff wanted to do; QLG members saw
the Act as enabling action. Increasing the
pace and scale of treatments would sustain a
flow of wood products to area forest product
facilities and sustain employment. Frustra-
tion over Forest Service treatment pace and
scale was evident during both the 2007 and
2013 interviews, to the extent that the gen-
eral sentiment among the group was that the
Project was a failure. A related issue dis-
cussed below is how the Forest Service pack-
aged projects in a way that raised costs and
limited commercial timber production.
QLG members did point out that, where
treatments were implemented, they met the
ecological intent of the Act in making forests
more resilient to large-scale disturbances.
Conversely, during the 2007 inter-
views, Forest Service staff—field-level for-
esters in particular—saw the Act’s acreage
targets by silvicultural prescription as con-
straining their ability to make appropriate
site-specific decisions based on existing for-
est structure. When the Forest Service did
propose large-scale projects to increase the
pace and scale of treatments, the proposals
were appealed or litigated, forcing redesign
by the agency planners to scale down the
projects. In the 2013 interviews, many of the
same Forest Service staff interviewed in
2007 expressed how they had learned to
adapt the general principles embodied in the
Act to fit to local ecological conditions and
management contexts. By 2013, the Act was
not seen as a prescriptive poison pill to swal-
low, but an opportunity to work through
ideas about if, where, and how silvicultural
treatments might be appropriate to meet
broader landscape restoration and resilience
goals, e.g., restoring historic forest structure
and fire regimes.
For environmental organizations out-
side of the QLG, interviewees were opposed
to having a legislative mandate to advance
what was seen as a narrow definition of com-
munity stability by requiring timber pro-
duction targets. For these stakeholders, the
Act handcuffed the Forest Service to propose
treatments in places where they were not ap-
propriate and would result in adverse envi-
ronmental impacts for the sake of producing
timber volume. Interviewees also claimed
that conformity to the Act’s provisions
caused the Forest Service to minimize or ig-
nore input from outside the QLG to meet
targets. As a result, treatment proposals pur-
suant to the Project received extra scrutiny
and opposition.
Changing regional management di-
Management direction for Sierra Nevada
national forests changed soon after Project
implementation began. Foremost, the 2001
and 2004 Sierra Nevada Forest Plan
Amendments created uncertainty in the
early years of the Project due to changing
management goals, standards, and guide-
lines between the 2001 and 2004 versions.
Low harvest volumes in 2002 and 2003 were
consistent with the 2001 Sierra Nevada For-
est Plan Amendment and its diameter-limit
restrictions on trees harvested. Total acres
treated were 44,000 acres in FY2001 be-
fore declining to 25,000 acres per year in
FY2002 and FY2003. Implementation was
focused primarily on forests on the east side
of the Sierra Nevada that had smaller diam-
eter trees, lower wood volumes, and low eco-
nomic value, but also had lower levels of so-
cial conflict than forests west of the Sierra
Nevada crest. Sawlog and biomass volumes
subsequently increased as a result of the
2004 Sierra Nevada Forest Plan Amend-
ment, which permitted harvest of larger trees
than allowed under the 2001 Record of De-
cision. Interviews with Forest Service line of-
ficers and staff and QLG members cited this
change in management direction as a key
factor affecting Project implementation; it
was not until the 2007 Meadow Valley proj-
ect that the Act’s provisions were fully
Compounding effects of regional and
national economic conditions on the
local forest industry
Journal of Forestry July 2016 499
QLG members and forest industry represen-
tatives attributed the decline in forest prod-
ucts-related employment during the early
period of the Project to the 2001 Sierra Ne-
vada Forest Plan Amendment’s restrictions
on timber harvesting in California spotted
owl habitat. Three sawmills (Bieber, Loyal-
ton, and Susanville) closed between 2001
and 2004. While employment rebounded
slightly in 2003–2005 (Jack Faucett Associ-
ates 2011), employment fell in 2006–2009.
The latter was attributed to the recession
and the sharp decline in housing demand
from 2007 to 2011; the industry had not
fully recovered by 2011 (Woodall et al.
2011). Within the Project area, decreases in
sawmill and operator capacity and lower
market value of harvested material led to an
increase in “no bid” sales, which effectively
stalled Project implementation. Presum-
ably, the decline in industry capacity af-
fected national forest management and for-
est industry-related employment and
economies in the broader Sierra Nevada, not
just in the Project area.
Appeals and litigation affected the
pace and scale of implementation
Appeals and litigation were widely cited by
agency, industry, and community stake-
holders as a primary reason for reduced im-
plementation. Litigants frequently con-
tested the science, prescriptions, and
potential impacts during the early years of
the Project, especially for group selection,
which Forest Service personnel claimed was
compounded by heightened attention gen-
erated by the Act and the Sierra Nevada For-
est Plan Amendments. To avoid appeal or
litigation, Forest Service planners indicated
that they postponed or rescaled several man-
agement proposals to avoid the need for a
full environmental impact statement. Just
the prospect of appeal or litigation moti-
vated Forest Service staff to alter manage-
ment proposals, effectively reducing the
scope of proposals and often the size of trees
harvested. Treatment areas were repeatedly
remarked and resampled based on revised
treatment objectives resulting from legal
challenges or prolonged periods of inaction.
Legal challenges also affected monitoring
because activities requiring pre- and post-
treatment sampling had to be revised or
Over the 13-year life of the Project, 417
projects covering 242,000 acres were imple-
mented. Forest Service records indicated
that 20 projects were appealed, which repre-
sented 5% of the total projects imple-
mented. Six of the appeals proceeded to lit-
igation. Although small in number, they
represented high-profile cases that contrib-
uted to Forest Service planners’ reluctance to
increase the scale of projects. Litigation of
the North 49 Project on the Lassen National
Forest, the Empire Project on the Plumas
National Forest, and the Phoenix Project on
the Tahoe National Forest were specifically
cited by Forest Service interviewees as hav-
ing a “chilling effect” on subsequent treat-
ment planning and implementation.
One new development that emerged
from the 2013 interviews with Forest Ser-
vice staff and line officers and with environ-
mental stakeholders was the publication of
An Ecosystem Management Strategy for Sier-
ran Mixed-Conifer Forests (North et al.
2009), more commonly referred to as
“GTR-220” based on its General Technical
Report publication number designation per
the USDA Forest Service Pacific Southwest
Research Station’s catalog system. This re-
port presents an ecological restoration strat-
egy based on a synthesis of available scien-
tific research. The report was integral to
increasing collaborative dialogue between
some USDA Forest Service districts and en-
vironmental stakeholders, as it encompassed
what was seen as a more science-informed,
ecologically oriented goal than landscape-
scale fuel reduction.
A subsequent publication, Managing
Sierra Nevada Forests (North 2012), tiered
off of GTR-220 by presenting additional
summaries of scientific research pertaining
to Sierra Nevada forest restoration and pre-
senting case studies of collaborative plan-
ning and field implementation based on
GTR-220 concepts. For the 2013 interview-
ees who highlighted this new development,
these reports were critical to a path forward
to planning and implementing proposals
with stakeholders who had previously ap-
pealed and litigated management proposals.
However, this increased collaboration did
not result in a marked increase in timber
volume produced or acreage treated.
Variation in forest conditions and
uneven implementation across na-
tional forest units
According to Forest Service field-level for-
esters, the effects of past management on
forest structure affected treatment planning
and implementation. In many areas, the leg-
acy of past harvesting and fire suppression
created landscapes depleted of large living
trees and snags and dominated by dense
small-diameter trees. This constrained the
location of suitable areas available for group
selection as mandated by the Act. From our
interviews, this was a primary point of con-
tention between QLG members and the
Forest Service. During the 2007 and 2013
interviews, QLG members asserted that the
Forest Service was overly risk averse and
structured projects in ways that favored ser-
vice contracts over timber sales. Agency staff
stated that they were reluctant to apply
group selection in many areas due to what
was seen as inappropriate forest conditions.
Differences also occurred regarding
how Forest Service line officers, planning
teams, and stakeholders across the three na-
tional forests and within a national forest
evaluated treatment proposals, such as tree
size class distributions, topography, eco-
nomics, and wildlife habitat. Forest Service
silviculturists noted the practical challenges
involved with identifying suitable areas for
group selection, so group selection was only
considered for 0.57% of each planned treat-
ment unit. The Act and the QLG’s Com-
munity Stability Proposal intended group
selection to occur on 0.57% of the total
Project area. Although the distinction is sub-
tle, it meant that group selection was consid-
ered for far fewer acres than intended (Fig-
ure 2). Further, fewer acres were treated
because harvest layout had to accommodate
other many other factors (e.g., limited oper-
ating periods, accessibility, and merchant-
able volume). Stipulations from the Sierra
Nevada Forest Plan Amendments further
constrained treatment location and design.
Such variation in site-specific analyses across
administrative units often constrained the
scale of management activities, group selec-
tion in particular. In addition, Forest Service
personnel noted that wildfires that burned
within the Project area diverted human and
financial resources from the Project to post-
fire salvage planning and operations, further
reducing resources available for Project im-
We also observed that differences in in-
stitutional functioning and personnel be-
tween the national forests influenced the pri-
ority of Project management actions and,
therefore, the willingness of administrators
and senior staff to adjust workflow to align
with the goals of the Act. Interviews with
Forest Service personnel and QLG members
suggested that the support of leadership or
lack thereof in some cases was an important
factor. Frequent changes in leadership at the
500 Journal of Forestry July 2016
forest level had a direct effect on planning
priorities and allocation of resources; nine
forest supervisors directed work on the three
forests over the 13-year Project. The level of
support and direction provided to staff for
Project activities significantly influenced the
pace and scale of implementation, relation-
ships with the public, and the extent and
quality of the monitoring.
Discussion and Implications
Based on our review, the Project pro-
duced mixed results relative to the Act’s
stated goals. Fuel reduction treatments re-
duced active fire behavior, reduced fire im-
pact, and enhanced fire suppression efforts
within treated areas. Silvicultural treatments
increased structural complexity at the stand
scale by protecting large trees and creating
all-age, multistory stands (Figure 4). Water-
shed restoration projects were conducted
with Project funding; these probably would
not have occurred without the Project.
However, a key goal of the Act and the
Community Stability Proposal was to stabi-
lize employment and attenuate negative lo-
cal community social and economic impacts
by generating a predictable, continuous sup-
ply of wood fiber. In this regard, annual tar-
gets for acres treated and sawlog and biomass
volume produced consistently fell short; de-
clines in wood product industry jobs as a
whole and receipts to counties exhibited
downward trends throughout the Project
This result is consistent with the results of
Force et al. (1993), who demonstrated a causal
relationship between the decline in national
forest timber production and declining em-
ployment at the community scale. However,
other studies suggest a weak or nonexistent
link between wood fiber supply and commu-
nity stability (Freudenburg et al. 1998, Berck
et al. 2003), citing broader regional, national,
and global economic forces that affect forest
industry-related employment, such as the
2007 global economic recession and declines
in the housing market. This is clearly a com-
plex relationship depending on the geographic
scale of analysis (Carroll et al. 1999, Freuden-
burg et al. 1999). At the local community
level, declining forest products-related em-
ployment and income can result in indirect
impacts to national forest-reliant communities
identified in other ways, such as declining
K-12 school enrollments, increases in drug and
alcohol abuse, loss of family support networks
when people move out of the community, lack
of affordable and quality health care, and an
increase in poverty (Kusel et al. 2000, Kusel
and Saah 2012).
Changes in forest policy and manage-
ment can have highly variable effects on for-
est-reliant communities (Charnley et al.
2008); these effects were not adequately
assessed by the Project’s socioeconomic
monitoring program and are not generally
included in conventional definitions of
“community stability.” Future programs to
advance ecological and socioeconomic goals
should include a commitment to long-term
assessment of both community-level and re-
gional impacts and include socioeconomic
monitoring measures beyond employment
to include community case studies that
gauge broader measures of community well-
being and change relative to national forest
management (Charnley 2008, Charnley et
al. 2008, McLain et al. 2008).
Our evaluation was also limited due to
the lack of evidence about adverse environ-
mental impacts because monitoring was of-
ten either not completed, useful, fully em-
ployed, or timely, especially regarding
treatment effects on California spotted owls.
Although the sufficiency and timeliness of
monitoring is not an uncommon problem in
natural resource management (Gardner
2010, Biber 2011, Schultz and Nie 2012),
this problem signaled that structural imped-
iments existed within the Project despite the
substantial financial investment of $324
million and has broader implications for the
role of science and monitoring in collabora-
tive adaptive management of national forests
(Gutie´rrez et al. 2015). Several examples
during the course of our review led us to
question how monitoring was implemented,
analyzed, and used to inform subsequent
planning and management prescriptions
and the adequacy of mechanisms for trans-
lating new knowledge into changes in man-
agement. Although some monitoring infor-
mation suggested that mitigation measures
were effective in limiting certain adverse
impacts, information on impacts to Cali-
fornia spotted owl and other sensitive spe-
cies populations were wholly inadequate,
issues for which USDA Forest Service
management proposals are routinely ap-
pealed and litigated (Corbin 1999, Schultz et
al. 2013).
That timely monitoring and adaptive
management were missing for key environ-
mental concerns during the Project signals a
broader systemic issue for the USDA Forest
Service because more recent policies, such as
the Federal Landscape Restoration Act of
2009, which authorized the Collaborative
Forest Landscape Restoration Program
(CFLRP), and the 2012 national forest
planning rule explicitly mandate robust col-
laborative monitoring and adaptive manage-
ment programs (Schultz et al. 2012, 2014,
Larson et al. 2013). It was apparent to us
that many field-level USDA Forest Service
staff and stakeholders embraced the oppor-
Figure 4. Mixed conifer forest, Plumas National Forest, California.
Journal of Forestry July 2016 501
tunity to increase monitoring to address un-
certainties and conflicts. However, monitor-
ing and adaptive management over the
course of the Project did not receive unam-
biguous leadership commitment and sup-
port, an attribute Schultz et al. (2014) iden-
tify as being critical in their analysis of
multiparty monitoring associated with the
first 10 CFLRP projects. In addition, as was
the case with this Project, formal adminis-
trative structures linking monitoring results
with management decisionmaking are still
lacking in CFLRP projects (Schultz et al.
2014, Cheng et al. 2015).
In the broad sense, the Act fell short of
expectations because of the dynamic, com-
plex interaction between national policy, re-
gional forest management directives, varia-
tion in Project implementation among
national forests and districts, and local bio-
physical, economic, and social-political con-
texts. Similar challenges in implementation
of national-level forest policy have been
noted. For example, in their analysis of stew-
ardship contracting policy implementation,
Moseley and Charnley (2014) suggested
that “micro-processes” within local USDA
Forest Service management units influenced
how field staff implemented policies. Local
line officers made choices according to their
exposure to top-down political pressures, lo-
cal biophysical and socioeconomic condi-
tions, and internal unit dynamics, and this
exposure varied from forest to forest and
even from district to district (Moseley and
Charnley 2014).
Similarly, Sabatier et al. (1995) demon-
strated that pressures from local constituen-
cies and a preference for maintaining agency
procedures influenced forest plan decisions,
not top-down directives. Within national
forest units, Stern et al. (2010) found that
personnel are subject to competing prefer-
ences and accountability pressures when
planning and analyzing management pro-
posals. These field-level realities caused us to
question the efficacy of top-down, “place-
based” legislating of management activities
for a specific geographic area to achieve par-
ticular outcomes and to resolve long-stand-
ing conflicts (Gutie´rrez et al. 2015). Nie and
Fiebig (2010) raised similar questions re-
garding a proposed congressional bill to cod-
ify the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership’s
In sum, the Herger-Feinstein Quincy
Library Group Forest Recovery Act marked
an experiment to address long-standing so-
cial, political, and legal conflicts over na-
tional forest management. Although the
prescriptive approach may have been well
intended, it insufficiently accounted for the
complex biophysical, management, social,
and economic contexts within which na-
tional forest management occurs. Federal
appropriations of $324 million over 13
years were insufficient to overcome these
challenges. More recent national forest pol-
icies and administrative initiatives have con-
tinued experimentation with mechanisms to
overcome conflict and advance collaborative
planning and implementation, such as per-
manent authorization of Stewardship Con-
tracting, the Collaborative Forest Landscape
Restoration Program, the 2012 national for-
est planning rule, and the expansion of
Good Neighbor Authority. These directives
are less prescriptive than the Act, provide
more flexibility for field-level managers to
account for local biophysical and socioeco-
nomic contexts, and rely on collaborative
engagement with stakeholders. However,
with this increased flexibility come greater
expectations to integrate monitoring and
adaptive management to ensure that imple-
mentation and outcomes will be consistent
with policy goals and societal expectations.
1. For more information, see
2. For more information, see
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... Therefore, what appeared to be regional conflicts (in the Pacific Northwest and southwestern USA; Gutiérrez et al. 2020) actually had broad implications for forest protection, wildlife conservation, and economic development that reached far beyond the region and local special interest groups Verner 1992, Gutiérrez et al. 2015). It was the presence of these many outside parties and their support groups that generated the resources to engage in prolonged conflict because of potential precedent-setting outcomes stemming from conservation measures (e.g., Gutiérrez et al. 2015, Cheng et al. 2016. ...
... The relevance of elite capture is that the ensuing power imbalance often leads to resentment, distrust, and resistance by groups having less power, all of which undermine conflict management or resolution. Similarly, groups (or even individuals) can marshal money, lawyers, politicians, and external groups to join the fray, leading to power imbalances, such as happened with the Quincy Library Group Act, which was federal legislation intended to mandate collaboration about forest management (including Spotted Owls) between a local community and the US Forest Service (Gutiérrez et al. 2015, Cheng et al. 2016. Conversely, aggrieved parties in an elite capture dynamic can respond with grassroots efforts or recruitment of their own external forces to counter opposing external forces brought into the conflict by the other side. ...
... Therefore, a powerful mechanism to resolve conservation disputes was lost. For example, one local community group (Quincy Library Group [QLG]) in the Sierra Nevada tried a novel approach, which was to force the US Forest Service by congressional legislation to collaborate on local forest management (Gutiérrez et al. 2015, Cheng et al. 2016. Although this was an attempt to impose a unique type of community comanagement of public lands, the effectiveness of this effort was undermined by outside forces (a form of elite capture; Cheng et al. 2016). ...
The conservation of the Spotted Owl (Strix occidentalis) has been the center of a 40-yr conflict between those who wish to conserve owls and old growth forests and those who wish to log trees as commodities. Although the Spotted Owl conflict seems unique because it has lasted so long, it is no different than many other conservation conflicts in which many scientists—and raptor biologists specifically—might find themselves engaged. Therefore, I explore the commonality among conflicts, including specific details of the Spotted Owl case, to illustrate the problems inherent in conservation conflicts and why these disputes last so long. I suggest two general motivations that I believe capture the reasons behind people's willingness to engage in conflict: money and passion. Yet the specific motivations (e.g., economic well-being and ideology) nested within these general motivations are complex and interconnected. This complexity can lead to intractable situations, such as Spotted Owl conservation, which have been defined as “wicked problems” that cannot be resolved to the satisfaction of most. But understanding these broad motivations and identifying the wide variety of specific motivations nested within them may yield opportunities to manage—rather than resolve—a conservation conflict. Accordingly, I present a conceptual overview of the owl situation as a case study, along with some guidelines for raptor biologists working in conflict environments.
... The fuelbreak concept has been updated to a shaded fuelbreak, where some forest canopy is maintained in the treated area (Agee et al. 2000). In the northern Sierra Nevada in California, a network of defensible fuel profile zones (DFPZ) was established under the Herger-Feinstein Quincy Library Group (HFQLG) Forest Recovery Act of 1988 (Cheng et al. 2016). Defensible fuel profile zones are prescribed to be shaded fuelbreaks between 0.4 and 0.8 km in width treated with a combination of mechanical thinning from below and prescribed fire, located to leverage existing features such as roads or ridge tops. ...
... In the design of fuel treatments, it is important to consider landscape context and existing vegetation structure Moghaddas 2005, Stephens et al. 2010). For example, the legacies of previous timber harvest and fire suppression in the landscapes in the DFPZ network were thought to have depleted those areas of large trees (Cheng et al. 2016). This would make it difficult to fulfill a fuel treatment objective to retain large-fire resilient trees (Agee and Skinner 2005). ...
... This would make it difficult to fulfill a fuel treatment objective to retain large-fire resilient trees (Agee and Skinner 2005). The guidelines for the implementation of DFPZs were seen as overly prescriptive and inhibited the ability to make site-specific decisions (Cheng et al. 2016). A given fuel treatment prescription may not be equally successful in different landscape contexts, and it is important to understand what characteristics explain variability in fuel treatment effectiveness. ...
Fuel treatments are designed with multiple management goals, including improving suppression capacity and restoring the historical structure of dry forests. Fuelbreaks are a class of fuel treatment that remove fuels within a wide strip of land, with an overarching objective to reduce fire behavior and provide safe access for suppression. In an empirical analysis of shaded fuelbreaks that burned during the 2014 Bald Fire (15,950 ha on the Lassen National Forest, California, USA), we found that overall fire severity was reduced in the treated areas relative to untreated. A non‐linear mixed effects model estimates that the reduction was detected more than 400 m into the treated area, greater than the standard width of the prescribed fuelbreak. Both pre‐ and post‐fire species composition differed between treated and untreated forest, with few living stems remaining in the measured untreated areas. In the post‐fire treated area, we documented a mixed conifer forest dominated by larger diameter Pinus, implying that the fuelbreak did result in a more resilient post‐fire structure and composition. These results indicate that fuelbreak design may need to be wider than generally prescribed and that even during extreme fire conditions fuel treatments can result in resilient forest structures.
... Informal, multi-party collaborative planning efforts among Forest Service staff and other stakeholders and partners have become prevalent in national forest governance (Maier and Abrams, 2018). An ongoing challenge has been to find space within policy to support the inclusion of collaboratively developed agreements in agency planning processes (Enzer and Goebel, 2014;Cheng et al., 2016). Both the Forest Service and community-based partners have advocated for policy changes to facilitate collaboration with local stakeholder groups, particularly to accomplish landscape restoration (Cromley, 2005;Schultz et al., 2012;Enzer and Goebel, 2014;USFS, 2015b). ...
... The canon of environmental law in the United States was designed to limit the influence of organized interest groups on agency decision-making, making it difficult to find the policy space for collaboration (Koontz et al., 2004;Klyza and Sousa, 2008). Past efforts involving place-based legislation mandating implementation of collaborative agreements have met with limited success for a variety of reasons including a layering of conflicting mandates and policies (Cheng et al., 2016). Over the last two decades, community-based forestry advocates have promoted policy changes to support greater collaboration with local stakeholders, leverage partner capacity, and encourage holistic implementation of collaboratively designed projects (Gray et al., 2001;Baker and Kusel, 2003;Cromley, 2005;Enzer and Goebel, 2014). ...
The US Forest Service’s Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) was a major policy innovation for supporting collaborative, landscape-scale forest restoration. Twenty-three CFLRP projects were funded following requests for proposals in fiscal years (FY) 2010 and 2011. Congress appropriated the fully authorized amount of $40 million to the program in FY 2012. In 2018, Congress reauthorized the CFLRP, and soon thereafter the Forest Service issued a request for new CFLRP proposals. In this article, we provide background on the reauthorization of the CFLRP and the updated proposal process. We present findings from a document analysis of the final 22 CFLRP proposals submitted in FY 2020 to characterize current demand for CFLRP and the nature of the proposed projects. We discuss our findings in the context of the CFLRP Advisory Committee’s recommendations, funding uncertainty, and broader efforts to support cross-boundary, collaborative wildfire mitigation and forest restoration. Study Implications: Reviewing the broader context of the CFLRP and the FY 2020 proposals highlights the importance of the program in pursuing collaborative, cross-boundary wildfire mitigation and restoration across the US. There is high demand for the program, as illustrated by more than $600 million requested over 10 years and more than $400 million in planned partner contributions for projects across diverse ecosystems involving locally driven partnerships. Ensuring consistent funding and leadership commitment, aligning policies across scales, supporting collaboration, encouraging innovation to support restoration and local economies, and using adaptive monitoring approaches are needed to facilitate the success of programs like CFLRP.
... Informal, multi-party collaborative planning efforts among Forest Service staff and other stakeholders and partners have become prevalent in national forest governance (Maier and Abrams, 2018). An ongoing challenge has been to find space within policy to support the inclusion of collaboratively developed agreements in agency planning processes (Enzer and Goebel, 2014;Cheng et al., 2016). Both the Forest Service and community-based partners have advocated for policy changes to facilitate collaboration with local stakeholder groups, particularly to accomplish landscape restoration (Cromley, 2005;Schultz et al., 2012;Enzer and Goebel, 2014;USFS, 2015b). ...
... The canon of environmental law in the United States was designed to limit the influence of organized interest groups on agency decision-making, making it difficult to find the policy space for collaboration (Koontz et al., 2004;Klyza and Sousa, 2008). Past efforts involving place-based legislation mandating implementation of collaborative agreements have met with limited success for a variety of reasons including a layering of conflicting mandates and policies (Cheng et al., 2016). Over the last two decades, community-based forestry advocates have promoted policy changes to support greater collaboration with local stakeholders, leverage partner capacity, and encourage holistic implementation of collaboratively designed projects (Gray et al., 2001;Baker and Kusel, 2003;Cromley, 2005;Enzer and Goebel, 2014). ...
Collaborative governance and landscape approaches have become a more prevalent in public land management in the United States in the face of increasing ecological and societal complexity and decreasing government resources and capacity. In this era of devolution and social-ecological change, there is a growing need for policy approaches that facilitate partnerships and participatory approaches to land management. One unique policy that emphasizes collaboration and large-landscape restoration on US federal forestlands is the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP), established in 2009 to accelerate the pace and scale of forest restoration. The policy included novel characteristics such as a decade-long commitment to landscapes and formal requirements for collaboration. This program presented an opportunity to assess how this policy affected collaboration and the factors that led to differential policy implementation. We conducted 89 interviews across all 23 CFLRP projects with internal agency staff and external collaborators on each project. We found that the CFLRP generated a variety of benefits related to collaboration, including increased trust and stronger relationships, increased collaborative partner influence, decreased litigation and conflict, and increased capacity to accomplish work; however, there were also challenges associated with the program, including thetime-intensive nature of collaboration and the lack of industry or contractors. Various local factors affected collaborative outcomes under the policy, including staff turnover and capacity, local leadership, and collaborative history. Successful collaborative outcomes were widespread under the CFLRP, and from this, we draw implications for the broader environmental governance literature about the policy characteristics that facilitate collaboration and the other institutional variables that may require attention in this context.
... Outside the tropics, the most mentions of forest activities were in observations on the United States (n = 12) and China (n = 10). Literature on forest activities in the United States focused on both public policies (Cheng et al 2016) ...
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Emerging research points to large greenhouse gas mitigation opportunities for activities that are focused on the preservation and maintenance of ecosystems, also known as natural climate solutions (NCS). Despite large quantifications of the potential biophysical and carbon benefits of these activities, these estimates hold large uncertainties and few capture the socio-economic bounds. Furthermore, the uptake of NCS remains slow and information on the enabling factors needed for successful implementation, co-benefits, and trade-offs of these activities remain underrepresented at scale. As such, we present a systematic review that synthesizes and maps the bottom-up evidence on the contextual factors that influence the implementation of NCS in the peer-reviewed literature. Drawing from a large global collection of (primarily case study-based, N=211) research, this study (1) clarifies the definition of NCS, including in the context of nature-based solutions and other ecosystem-based approaches to addressing climate change; (2) provides an overview of the current state of literature, including research trends, opportunities, gaps, and biases; and (3) critically reflects on factors that may affect implementation in different geographies. We find that the content of the reviewed studies overwhelmingly focuses on tropical regions and activities in forest landscapes. We observe that implementation of NCS rely, not on one factor, but a suite of interlinked enabling factors. Specifically, engagement of indigenous peoples and local communities (IPLC), performance-based finance, and technical assistance are important drivers of NCS implementation. While the broad categories of factors mentioned in the literature are similar across regions, the combination of factors and how and for whom they are taken up remains heterogeneous globally, and even within countries. Thus our results highlight the need to better understand what trends may be generalizable to inform best practices in policy discussions and where more nuance may be needed for interpreting research findings and applying them outside of their study contexts.
... By the 1990s, environmental non-government organizations (NGOs) and place-based collaborative groups emerged as powerful new forces (Cortner and Moote 1999;Cheng et al. 2003;Miner et al. 2014), working together, yet often at odds with the Forest Service, to steer federal forest management toward consideration of ecological integrity, economic sustainability, and social values (Cortner and Moote 1999;MacCleery 2008;Hays 2009). Local collaborative groups and supportive community-based organizations began to emerge in communities where the decline in the timber industry led environmentalists, industry representatives, and other local and regional actors to come together to address their common interests of community economic benefits and forest restoration (Cheng et al. 2003(Cheng et al. , 2016Abrams et al. 2015). Over time, an emphasis on dialogue and collaborative processes grew with a goal of identifying agreements around the acceptable scope of management, such as identifying places and parameters for vegetation management to restore lands and waters degraded after years of intensive timber harvesting, protect older trees, improve habitat for rare and sensitive species, and provide wood fiber to local timber processors (Hjerpe et al. 2009;Abrams 2011). ...
Conflict in US forest management for decades centered around balancing demands from forested ecosystems, with a rise in place-based collaborative governance at the end of the twentieth century. By the early 2000s, it was becoming apparent that not only had the mix of players involved in forest management changed, but so had the playing field, as climate-driven disturbances such as wildfire and insect and disease outbreaks were becoming more extensive and severe. In this conceptual review paper, we argue that disturbance has become the most prominent driver of governance change on US national forests, but we also recognize that the governance responses to disturbance are shaped by variables such as discourses, institutional history and path dependence, and institutional innovation operating at different system levels. We review the governance changes in response to disturbance that constitute a new frontier in US federal forest governance and offer a conceptual framework to examine how these governance responses are shaped by multi-level factors.
... This argumentation process entailed face-to-face and written claims and counter-claims between us, emulating the knowledge creation framework of Nonaka (1994) of moving between tacit practice-based knowledge acquired from operating within the WRRG program and explicit theory-based knowledge derived from the adaptive governance literature. This interactive argumentation-based process of analyzing and interpreting assessment data and information explicitly accounted for our respective positionalities and corresponding frames of references relative to the WRRG policy and program (Dryzek, 1993;Valovirta, 2002), and has been applied in other forest policy and program assessments (Cheng et al., 2016;Cheng & Randall-Parker, 2017). ...
en Competitive grants are increasingly used to induce proactive collaborative action by a range of actors to reduce forest wildfire risks. Given the rigidity of past wildfire risk governance, it is important to assess the adaptability of competitive grants as a new governance approach. Adaptive governance theory is used as a lens to assess the adaptability of the Colorado Wildfire Risk Reduction Grant (WRRG) program, which awards funds to successful applicants to reduce fuel on non‐federal lands at a community scale. Four best practices from the theory were applied: participation of and collaboration among diverse actors; co‐production of knowledge and learning toward adaptive management; cross‐scale interactions and fit between the scale of governance and the scale of the ecological problem; and the capacity for innovation and re‐organization. Using data and information about the WRRG structure and processes, awarded grantees from the first five granting cycles from 2013 to 2016, our direct participation‐observation as part of the Advisory Committee, and results from the WRRG effectiveness monitoring report, we examine the extent to which the WRRG program exhibited adaptive governance attributes. For each adaptive governance attribute, we found evidence of factors facilitating and frustrating adaptiveness of the WRRG program. We situate our findings within the broader context of using competitive grants as a forest wildfire risk governance approach and address additional directions for adaptive governance research. Abstract zh 竞争性基金越来越多的被用作一种手段来促进参与者之间的合作以达到降低森林火灾风险的目的。相比过去林火风险管理中的僵化,作为一种新的治理方法,竞争性基金可能具有更强的适应性。我们运用适应性治理理论来评估科罗拉多林火风险补助金(WRRG)的适应性。该计划向成功的申请者提供资金以促进社区内非联邦土地森林可燃物的清理。该理论的四种最佳实践模式包括:不同参与者的协作;基于适应性理论的共同学习和探索;治理范围与生态规模之间的契合和跨范围合作;创新和重组。作为咨询委员会一部分,我们收集利用了WRRG的结构和流程的相关数据进行研究。从2013年至2016年,我们直接参与调查了前五个授予周期内的被资助者。根据WRRG有效性监测报告,我们研究WRRG程序显示的这些被资助人自我适应和自我管理的属性和程度。对于每个属性,我们揭示了它们有利于和不利于WRRG计划适应性的证据。最后,我们将使用竞争性基金促进林火风险治理的方法放在更广泛的背景下进行评价并提出有关适应性治理的其他研究方向。
... An example is the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA), which has been criticized for focusing on the protection of individual species, rather than the management of the overall social-ecological system (Koontz andBodine 2008, Benson 2012), and for leaving little room for experimentation (Schultz 2008, Cosens andWilliams 2012). Narrow and prescriptive rules are considered more problematic (Jantarasami et al. 2010, Green et al. 2015, Cheng et al. 2016). On the other hand, process-oriented laws are regarded to offer more opportunities for adaptation (Jantarasami et al. 2010, van Rijswick and Salet 2012, Garmestani and Benson 2013. ...
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Adaptive management has been considered a valuable approach for managing social-ecological systems involving high levels of complexity and uncertainty. However, many obstacles still hamper its implementation. Law is often seen as a barrier for moving adaptive management beyond theory, although there has been no synthesis on the challenges of legal constraints or how to overcome them. We contribute to filling this knowledge gap by providing a systematic review of the peer-reviewed literature on the relationship between adaptive management and law in relation to social-ecological systems. We analyze how the scholarship defines the concept of adaptive management, identifies the legal barriers to adaptive management, and the legal strategies suggested for enabling this approach. Research efforts in this domain are still highly geographically concentrated in the United States of America, unveiling gaps concerning the analysis of other legal jurisdictions. Overall, our results show that more flexible legal frameworks can allow for adaptive management without undermining the role of law in providing stability to social interactions. Achieving this balance will likely require the reform of existing laws, regulations, and other legal instruments. Legal reforms can facilitate the emergence of adaptive governance, with the potential to support not only adaptive management implementation but also to make law itself more adaptive.
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Managing complex social-ecological systems in an era of rapid climate change and changing human pressures represents a major challenge in sustainability science. The Sierra Nevada, USA is a large social-ecological system facing a tipping point that could result in major ecosystem changes. A century of fire suppression and climate change have set the stage for mega-disturbances that threaten biodiversity, human life and values, ecosystem services, and forest persistence. Stakeholders face multidimensional and often contentious trade-offs with costs and benefits that can be mismatched in space and time. If compromises cannot be reached, the status quo is likely to continue, resulting in the conversion of large portions of a 100 000 km2 predominately mixed-conifer forest ecosystem to a chaparral-dominated ecosystem. We describe the outcomes of a continuation of the ecological status quo on biodiversity, cultural history, fire management, recreational value, and climate control, including indirect effects on water and food security and recreation. The social-ecological ramifications of such a future are undesirable for most stakeholders. Therefore, we contend that forest management conflicts should be framed in terms of the cost of failure of negotiations among stakeholders. Specifically, negotiations may benefit from (1) stakeholders quantifying their definitions of success and failure, (2) quantification of trade-offs and recognition of their multidimensionality, and (3) allowing for solutions that are heterogeneous in space and time. This approach may help stakeholders navigate the wicked problem of managing Sierra Nevada forests and other complex social-ecological systems.
This book brings together chapters from a community of social science researchers who have conducted studies across multiple CFLRP projects to generate insights, not just about the program but also about dynamics that are central to collaborative and large landscape-scale approaches to land management and relevant to broader practice. This introductory chapter describes the historical context for the CFLRP as we consider how forest management goals have changed over the years and explore what this has meant for governance (i.e. the actors and institutions – including laws, agency procedures, and formal and informal decision-making norms – that structure decisions about national forest management). We then devote a section to providing a detailed overview of the CFLRP legislation and its antecedents in collaborative forest restoration policy and practice to set the stage for this book. As scholars of collaborative forest management, we offer insights into some of the most important questions for social scientists studying collaborative forest restoration, and finish with an outline of the organization of the volume.
Technical Report
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Evaluate how well hazard fuel reduction and vegetation management activities interacted with wildfires on the Plumas, Lassen and Tahoe National Forests between 1999 and 2010.
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Nearly 258 million ha (28%) of the United States is publicly owned land that is managed by federal government agencies. For example, the US Department of Agriculture's Forest Service (USFS) manages over 77 million ha of national forests and grasslands for the benefit of the American public. Given its legal directive to manage multiple uses, it is not surprising that conflicts arise among stakeholders over how this land should be used (Lansky, 1992). The USFS has much discretion in how land is managed, yet must often balance conflicting values of public use and benefit (Nie, 2004). As national priorities, social preferences and public awareness of national forest goods, services and values have changed over time, USFS managers have faced increased pressure to balance consumptive uses with the need for environmental protection. Competing stakeholder demands coupled with increased environmental risks (wildfires, tree diseases and insect epidemics) have resulted in an escalating conservation conflict that is manifested in administrative appeals, lawsuits and a growing distrust of the agency. Over time, the USFS has embraced new directions and management paradigms to reduce conflict. Some of these have been ecosystem management, adaptive management and now collaborative management (e.g. Holling, 1978; Maser, 1988; Franklin, 1992; Boyce and Haney, 1997; Wondolleck and Yaffee, 2000; Brown et al., 2004). These approaches reflect changing societal values, political pressures and new scientific information. A persistent conflict has been the logging of trees in national forests and related impacts on forest ecosystems (Lansky, 1992). The USFS’ timber sale programme has supported jobs and community stability through economic development. Logging has also been a mechanism to reduce the risk of wildfire by reducing tree density (fuel for fires) and vertical stand diversity (‘ladder’ fuels; North et al., 2009). However, logging can also negatively affect forest integrity, watershed quality, wildlife, aesthetic and spiritual values of forests (Satterfield, 2002; North et al., 2009).
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In recent years, the forest products industry of the U.S. experienced a downturn in output to levels not seen in decades and employment losses in the hundreds of thousands- for instance, a number far greater than witnessed in the Nation's automotive industry. The extent of the forest industry downturn varies by sector, impacted by structural changes in the overall economy coupled with substantial impacts from the Great Recession. Globalization of manufacturing and expanded use of electronic communication media contributed to a decline in U.S. pulp, paper, and paperboard output since the late 1990s, while the collapse of housing construction since 2006 and off-shoring of furniture production contributed to declines in U.S. wood product output. The paper points to structural changes that may be difficult to reverse, but also points to some potential prospects for growth in the future such as increased secondary product manufacturing and wood energy. This paper serves as an introduction to the extent of the downturn with a particular focus on trends in forest sector economic production and employment across the U.S . Because the nation's forest industry varies by region due to differences in forest resources and forest industries, additional regional examinations of this downturn (same issue) will highlight variations in the regional industrial response to the "Great Recession."
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A principal challenge of federal forest management has been maintaining and improving habitat for sensitive species in forests adapted to frequent, low- to moderate-intensity fire regimes that have become increasingly vulnerable to uncharacteristically severe wildfires. To enhance forest resilience, a coordinated landscape fuel network was installed in the northern Sierra Nevada, which reduced the potential for hazardous fire, despite constraints for wildlife protection that limited the extent and intensity of treatments. Small mammal and songbird communities were largely unaffected by this landscape strategy, but the number of California spotted owl territories declined. The effects on owls could have been mitigated by increasing the spatial heterogeneity of fuel treatments and by using more prescribed fire or managed wildfire to better mimic historic vegetation patterns and processes. More landscape-scale experimentation with strategies that conserve key wildlife species while also improving forest resiliency is needed, especially in response to continued warming climates.
This report traces the flow of California's 2006 timber harvest through the primary wood products industry (i.e., firms that process timber into manufactured products such as lumber, as well as facilities such as pulp mills and particleboard plants, which use the wood fiber or mill residue directly from timber processors) and provides a description of the structure, condition, and economic impacts of California's forest products industry. Historical wood products industry changes are discussed, as well as trends in harvest, production, mill residue, and sales. Also examined are employment and worker earnings in the state's primary and secondary forest products industry.
The resolution of multiple use conflicts through place-based (national forest-specific) legislation has recently received increased interest. Most of these proposals combine wilderness designation, restoration objectives, economic development, funding arrangements, and other provisions, in a conservation package to be considered by Congress. Interest in the place-based legislative approach is precipitated by numerous factors, including perceptions of agency gridlock, problems related to forest planning, unresolved roadless and wilderness issues, and the embrace of collaboration. Though the national forests have a more unified governing framework than other federal land systems, the U.S. Forest Service has implemented place-based legislation in a few cases. This Article reviews these cases, and then presents a short case study focused on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge Partnership in Montana, which has proposed a place-based bill currently being debated. A brief review of other place-based proposals is also provided. We neither endorse nor oppose these proposals at this point. Instead, we ask a series of questions that we hope will help structure future analysis and debate of place-based national forest legislation. We ask questions pertaining to governance, conflict resolution, precedent, wilderness designation, and funding.
The fate of much of the world's terrestrial biodiversity depends upon our ability to improve the management of forest ecosystems that have already been substantially modified by humans. Monitoring is an essential ingredient in meeting this challenge, allowing us to measure the impact of different human activities on biodiversity and identify more responsible ways of managing the environment. Nevertheless many biodiversity monitoring programs are criticised as being little more than 'tick the box' compliance exercises that waste precious resources and erode the credibility of science in the eyes of decision makers and conservation investors. The purpose of this book is to examine the factors that make biodiversity monitoring programs fail or succeed. The first two sections lay out the context and importance of biodiversity monitoring, and shed light on some of the key challenges that have confounded many efforts to date. The third and main section presents an operational framework for developing monitoring programs that have the potential to make a meaningful contribution to forest management. Discussion covers the scoping, design and implementation stages of a forest biodiversity monitoring program, including defining the purpose, goals and objectives of monitoring, indicator selection, and the process of data collection, analysis and interpretation. Underpinning the book is the belief that biodiversity monitoring should be viewed not as a stand-alone exercise in surveillance but rather as an explicit mechanism for learning about how to improve opportunities for conservation. To be successful in this task, monitoring needs to be grounded in clear goals and objectives, effective in generating reliable assessments of changes in biodiversity and realistic in light of real-world financial, logistical and social constraints.