Last week an EMS fellow-traveler and I were discussing process requirements, Forest Service agency culture, and our hopes, dreams, and nightmares regarding the next few years.
We concluded, that very likely EMS process requirements would bury the Forest Service or the FS would find means to bury EMS—deep-six it. But we also discussed a third path. On the third path we caught a glimpse of a positive future where EMS would transform the Forest Service into an agency that actually knows its process requirements and no longer takes pride in ducking its own directives.
As the process requirements of EMS become ever-more-clear and more widely shared, more and more FS folks are getting the "deer in the headlights look." Early FS EMS arm-waving suggested that the similarities between our extant and emergent planning and adaptive management processes and the EMS world would make the transition easy and relatively quick. But the realities are beginning to dawn differently and we are becoming aware , rhetoric aside, that we are not an adaptive management organization, and will face much difficulty in the transformation.
It will prove interesting to see which path the Forest Service takes. If the first, the agency may not survive much past its Centennial celebrations. On the second path, agency immune system responses will trigger to reject the EMS processes and its emphasis on disclosure, process compliance, process improvement, and so on. On the third path the Forest Service might use EMS as a catalyst to become an adaptive management organization. The jury is out! The challenge is ours. Which path will we follow?
- EMS buries the Forest Service
- Forest Service buries EMS
- EMS transforms FS culture into Adaptive Management