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More: NFMA Regulations and the Committee of Scientists

Re: : National Forest Management Act Regulation Rewrite Dialogue (Mark Garland)
Date: Tue, 13 Oct 1998 08:50:46 GMT
From: <unknown>

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Note: NFMA Committee of Scientists Near Completion

Re: More: NFMA Regulations and the Committee of Scientists
Date: Wed, 16 Dec 1998 18:05:26 GMT
From: Dave Iverson <Iverson_Dave/>

Yesterday, 12/15/98, Committee chair Norm Johnson led the Scientists through a discussion of the newly drafted Summary. Members pledged support in rewriting the summary to make it flow more smoothly and be less analytical. In addition they discussed the fact that there is some dissention in their ranks, with at least one substantive dissenting opinion having been aired publicly among the 13 members. We will try to track substantive changes in both the summary and the report itself (available in Word format only from the Committee of Scientists Website). We will also try to track the progress of the Committee as members struggle to find and maintain common ground. Dave.

Note: Roger Sedjo's "Dissenting Perspective"

Re: Note: NFMA Committee of Scientists Near Completion (Dave Iverson)
Date: Wed, 16 Dec 1998 23:35:15 GMT
From: Dave Iverson <Iverson_Dave/>

On November 19th, NFMA Committee of Scientists member Roger Sedjo filed what he called A Dissenting Perspective. It remains to be seen whether or not this rift is small and whether or not others on the Committee share at least some of Sedjo's angst. A soundbite can not capture Sedjo's message, but in part it is that "the Report goes well beyond its mandate in recommending a new mission for the FS. On the other hand it is too timid in identifying and addressing fundamental changes which are a necessary condition to the complete functioning of the planning process." We will leave it to the Committee to sort it all out. All we can do from afar is to listen and wait.. Dave.

Disagree: Rebuttal

Re: Note: Roger Sedjo's "Dissenting Perspective" (Dave Iverson)
Date: Fri, 18 Dec 1998 22:23:07 GMT
From: Andy Stahl <>

Dr. Sedjo asserts that the Committee’s report puts forward "a new mission for the FS that is in conflict with much of the statutory mission of the FS." Sedjo cites no statute, regulation, or case law for this bold pronouncement. Rather, he vaguely asserts that NFMA "calls for management consistent with maintaining the sustainability of a set of identified outputs." Not so.

Nothing in NFMA requires the Forest Service to produce a given amount of any commodity. In particular, 16 U.S.C. 1611 (Limitations on Timber Removal) is exactly what the title says – a limit, a ceiling, on the amount of timber that can be removed. It is not a mandate, requirement, or floor on logging levels. This fundamental fact has been litigated several times with the proponents of mandated timber harvest levels always losing.

Thus, Sedjo’s entire thesis is built upon a false straw man. Sedjo’s misconception may have resulted from the Reagan/Bush administrations NFMA implementation policies, which surely did seek to implement the law as if it contained mandated production levels. That’s a major reason why these administrations lost numerous Forest Service lawsuits, e.g., the northern spotted owl cases.

Feedback: Rebuttal #2

Re: Note: Roger Sedjo's "Dissenting Perspective" (Dave Iverson)
Date: Sat, 09 Jan 1999 04:15:07 GMT
From: Tom Haswell <>

The references by Sedjo are interesting. MacCleery makes some useful points in his book, but he is hardly looking at the whole forest ecosystem. A major complaint about his report is that it focuses on only young forest wildlife, and totally ignores older forest ecosystems and wildlife. Of course young forest and edge wildlife looks good - young forests and lots of edges are what we mostly have these days. Things aren't faring so well for interior species and old forest species. Sustainability has to include older forests, too, and our public lands have to focus on this, since the rest of the landscape is being so well managed for younger stands (or, increasingly, no forests at all).

A reading of the COS report actually finds more than a little room for forest harvests. The wording is in fact scary to some environmentalists - going to indicator species and the emphasis on communities playing an increasing role in participating in the direction of their local forests and the use of those forests to support and sustain the local communities. I'm not sure what Roger is complaining about.

Tom Haswell

Note: Committee of Scientists Chair Norm Johnson Resigns

Re: More: NFMA Regulations and the Committee of Scientists
Date: Fri, 18 Dec 1998 17:30:32 GMT
From: Dave Iverson <Iverson_Dave/>

The rift in the Committee of Scientist has widened, at least for now. On Wednesday, Dec. 16th Norm Johnson sent a note to fellow Committee members stating that he could not accept the majority opinion on "Ecological Sustainability" and was "withdrawing from the COS." Johnson said "The Committee has spoken on the ecological sustainability reg. I do not agree with the decision. I do not wish to defend it. I believe that it will continue to over-shadow all other Committee recommendations."

An AP aricle covering the story appeared in the news this morning so I felt obliged to share it with you. This rift in the Committee of Scientists reminds me of so many other stories that continue to play out in interdisciplanary teams in the US Forest Service. There are deep moral issues involved in managing the nation's forests and national sentiment is deeply split on many issues. Perhaps the Committe in time will find it OK to follow the Supreme Court model and allow for majority and minority opinions on divisive issues. Dave.

Feedback: some thoughts

Re: Note: Committee of Scientists Chair Norm Johnson Resigns (Dave Iverson)
Date: Wed, 30 Dec 1998 19:39:33 GMT
From: <>


I would guess that this committee of scientists issue will show us in a microcosm the more general debate we are having over the purposes of the national forests. Until we can resolve that debate, at least in terms of moving ahead with policy and so forth, all this will continue. It is absolutely fascinating to watch.

Feedback: The difficult task ahead

Re: More: NFMA Regulations and the Committee of Scientists
Keywords: Dialogue Debate
Date: Tue, 22 Dec 1998 18:17:23 GMT
From: Jim Saveland <jsaveland/>

I would like to comment on just how difficult is the task ahead. The stated intent of this forum is to foster dialogue rather than debate. Yet, immediately it is the debate and division over the Committee of Scientists report, with Sedjo's dissenting opinion and Johnson's resignation as chair that draws our attention.

There is a lot to like in the October 25th draft of the report of the Committee of Scientists. Some phrases that caught my eye:

"Meaningfully engage the American people..."

"Organize planning around a collective vision of the desired future."

"The first step for decision making is to develop the public forum for defining the desired future condition."

"Planning should organize around a collective vision of the desired future considering the larger landscape in which the national forests sit."

To the Committee of Scientists, I wonder, did you develop a collective vision of the desired future of the document you are trying to create?

"We believe that planning will be more successful if it takes a 'participatory' approach."

"Conflict can be a source of creativity rather than division, when diverse perspectives are welcomed and deliberated in open, accessible forums. Creating open forums for discussion of important public issues is the essence of public planning."

Conflict can be a source of creativity....hmmm. When faced with conflict we typically see only two options - fight (e.g. Sedjo's dissenting opinion) or flee (e.g. Johnson's resignation). A third option is to blend or dance (e.g. the martial art of Aikido). Those interested in a more in depth discussion of this third option are referred to the following books, Magic of Conflict by Thomas Crum ( and Aikido in Everyday Life by Terry Dobson and Victor Miller.

In Chapter two of the draft report, the eighth of the eight essential building blocks of stewardship capacity is "A Learning Organization." I was glad to see the recognition of this important concept in the report. I was also disheartened at the limited understanding of the concept displayed in the report. The paragraph on the need for "carrots" and "sticks" is antithetical to everything I know about creating learning organizations. I have heard the reliance on carrots and sticks more appropriately referred to as jackass management. Ah, a moment of conflict and disagreement. I have taken the road of fighting, and a low road at that by the use of derogatory words. This will surely provoke a defensive response and a counterattack from those who believe in the wisdom of carrots and sticks. While the debate may provide some drama and entertainment, it will most likely not advance our understanding. If I step back a moment and pause to reflect, I realize that I have developed a belief system based on my past life experiences that incorporates the belief that we can manage by getting people to comply with rules and regulations or we can manage by trying to tap into people's deepest aspirations. In my world view, carrots and sticks are useful for getting compliance, but in so doing often destroy aspiration, which just happens to be a key component of learning organizations. What I also realize is that any belief system, and especially mine, is a limited perspective, it only provides a piece of the puzzle. To see the whole puzzle, I need to suspend my beliefs and judgments and invite others to help me see what I can not see. In all sincerity I need to ask what is it about carrots and sticks that I'm missing, what can't I see? There must be a desire to learn and a willingness to change. Suspending beliefs and judgments does not mean abadoning them, quite the contrary. In listening to the other side the objective is not to try to find out which side is right but rather to blend the two opposing viewpoints into a new more meaningful and productive viewpoint.

A final thought from the Committee of Scientists draft report: "The desire to learn and willingness to change cannot be forced..."


Re: : Untitled
From: <unknown>

Note: NFMA Committee of Scientists Whole Again

Re: More: NFMA Regulations and the Committee of Scientists
Date: Wed, 30 Dec 1998 20:14:10 GMT
From: Dave Iverson <Iverson_Dave/>


From: K. Norman Johnson[
Sent: Wednesday, December 23, 1998 1:06 PM

To:;;;;;;;;;;;;;;; plumley_harriet/

Subject: Beginning again

COS 12/22/98

Thank you for all the expressions of concern and support over the last week. They have touched me deeply.

The discussion and uproar that followed my resignation have caused me to reflect on the importance of the national forests in American life, the complexity of the issues that we have tackled, and the role that you and others count on me to play. This last week has also further helped me appreciate the passion that people, including myself, bring to discussion of the national forests and their management.

We have come a long way in our attempt to craft a framework for planning the management of these precious lands, and our draft report contains many innovative and highly useful recommendations. While I feel that that we must use care in developing this framework to distinguish where scientific and technical advice leaves off and where policy making begins, I also acknowledge the complexity of this issue.

A number of you have told me that you believe we can resolve the misunderstandings and differences that have clouded parts of our recent discussions. In addition, you have pointed out the importance of our work and that, so close to the finish, we should make every effort to come together. I agree and am ready to begin again.

Merry Christmas,

Norm Johnson

Norm Johnson

Feedback: Mission, Planning, and Science Challenges for the USFS

Re: More: NFMA Regulations and the Committee of Scientists
Date: Fri, 05 Feb 1999 21:30:32 GMT
From: Dave Iverson <Iverson_Dave/>

Last April I shared with the Committee of Scientists (COS) a perspective titled The Forest Service as a "Learning Challenged" Organization. I thought it might be a useful addition to this discussion -- to get us focused on some of the many challenges ahead as the COS prepares its final report, and as the Forest Service continues to struggle with appropriate language for the NFMA Regulation. I hope we can share the regulation wording with you soon after the COS reports out. But that decision is, of course, out of my hands.

News: "Proposed" Summary of NFMA COS Report, 2/9/99

Re: More: NFMA Regulations and the Committee of Scientists
Date: Thu, 11 Feb 1999 20:25:47 GMT
From: Moderator <diverson/>

NFMA Committee of Scientists
February 9, 1999


Note: Criticism of "Species Viability" language in COS 2/9/99 Summary

Re: News: "Proposed" Summary of NFMA COS Report, 2/9/99 (Moderator)
Keywords: Species Viability, NFMA
Date: Mon, 08 Mar 1999 22:19:51 GMT
From: moderator <diverson/>

Here is a snippit from Mike Anderson's comment on the 2/9/99 Committee of Scientists Summary.

"As currently written, the approach toward ecological sustainability in the summary bears a striking resemblance to the timber industry's proposed definition of ecosystem management. The American Forest and Paper Association in 1994 defined ecosystem management as "a resource management system designed to maintain or enhance ecosystem health and productivity while producing essential commodities and other values to meet human needs and desires within the limits of socially, biologically, and economically acceptable risk." (quoted in Cortner and Moote, The Politics of Ecosystem Management, p. 50 (Island Press, 1999)).

"I am very concerned and disappointed that the latest report summary has retreated so far from the goal of ecologically sustainability. As it currently stands, the summary signals a weakening, rather than a strengthening, of existing regulatory safeguards for biodiversity and concepts of ecosystem management. I strongly urge you to re-examine the summary and make it consistent with your draft report."

Mike Anderson (

Anderson's full comment can be found at SUMMARY COMMENT, 2/15/99

News: Committee of Scientists Delivers Final Report, 3/15/99

Re: More: NFMA Regulations and the Committee of Scientists
Date: Mon, 15 Mar 1999 22:26:21 GMT
From: Moderator <diverson/>

NFMA Committee of Scientists
March 15, 1999


Feedback: O'Toole Says That COS Was Given Wrong Assignment

Re: : National Forest Management Act Regulation Rewrite Dialogue (Mark Garland)
Keywords: planning, management, national forests, NFMA
Date: Thu, 01 Apr 1999 22:17:19 GMT
From: Moderator <diverson/>

Randal O'Toole has never been shy with his criticism of the Forest Service. Recently he criticized the NFMA Committee of Scientists' effort suggesting that they ought to have been charged to come up with an alternative to planning instead of just fixing the planning process. Below find an excerpt from his criticism. For the rest of the story see Emphasis on planning will not save the Forest Service, by Randal O'Toole, Special to The Denver Post 3/14/99

A review of the plans written during the 1980s reveals that nearly all of them attempted to lock the agency into outmoded policies and methods of management. In a report due out soon, a committee of scientists appointed by the secretary of agriculture recommends that the Forest Service undertake another round of planning. Only this time, says the committee, plans should be written for watersheds, not national forests. Somehow, this change in boundaries will magically make planners' predictions more accurate and put them in touch with both public opinion and management needs.
In another momentous change, the committee of scientists changes the term "sustained yield" to "sustainability." "Multiple use" becomes "a wide variety of uses." "Public involvement" becomes "a collective vision of the future." For good measure, why don't we wave a wand and say "abracadabra"? Without magic, the committee's recommendations will not suddenly make forests more efficient, get interest groups to cooperate, or persuade Congress to unleash money to an unproductive Forest Service. The secretary of agriculture gave the panel the wrong assignment. The question should have been, "What do we do now that we know planning does not work?"    Randal O'Toole

Feedback: Traditional Planning can't save the USFS, but there is another path.

Re: Feedback: O'Toole Says That COS Was Given Wrong Assignment (Moderator)
Keywords: planning, management, national forests, NFMA
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999 23:09:17 GMT
From: Dave Iverson <diverson/>

Randal O'toole is in good company in suggesting that "planning can't save the Forest Service." Many have been saying the same thing about public and private organizations for some time. Henry Mintzberg, for example, has written two very good books on the subject: The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning, 1994 and Strategy Safari, 1998. These two book are just the tip of a large iceberg if we were to explore the literature on the demise of formal planning as "strategy setting."

A challenge for the NFMA reg writing team is to sift through the "collaborative planning" rhetoric of the Committee of Scientists report and work out a process that fits well with contemporary organizational theory and practice regarding legal framing, strategy development, policy making, program development, and assessment/planning/monitoring at various scales -- to make sense of the Forest Service as a player in Collaborative Stewardship. Tall order, but I believe that we can find answers in the Adaptive Management and Working Politics arena. Early in 1998, as the Committee of Scientists sought input into their process I suggested 5 focus areas in a comment I labeled My Two Cents Worth:

  • First, address forest management and planning in context. In the context of society and culture including law and policy. In the context of hierarchically interrelated systems, both natural and social with no clear lines of separation between them. In the context of interrelated, open systems theory. We must remember that contextual approaches require thinking that is both holistic and particularistic. It is no longer "either-or," but "both-and" that guide our thoughts and actions.  
  • Second, [use adaptive management] founded on principles of "sense of purpose" and "sense of place." Sense of purpose has to do with sustainability, ecosystem health, biological integrity and conservation of species, living in harmony with Nature's discordant harmonies. "Sense of place" is also a hierarchically ordered multiscale notion -- "we need a sense of place and a sense of space around that place, for it is the surrounding space that defines our place and shapes our sense of who we are." (B.G. Norton and B. Hannon).
  • Third, build both the rules of the game and site-specific variants through extended dialogue between management and science, where both domains reach beyond the narrow confines of professionalism and engage stakeholders in dialogue throughout the process.
  • Fourth, embrace complexity and contingency through simplicity. Whatever we design, we must remember that it is to be done by "stakeholders" who will want a say in both ideology and methodology.
  • Finally, we have to understand how open, adaptive systems theory relates to management. Life is a journey, and so is management. Yet too often we forget that important point and try to force management into rigid straightjackets: rational planning, command and control decisionmaking, etc. If we can begin to design planning and management systems as open, adaptive systems--as part of our "complexity through simplicity" design and implementation--we will be ahead of the game.

Pehaps I should have have tried harder to push planning into the background. But my voice was just one of many and I tried my best to de-emphasize it.

For a brief moment I thought I might serve on the NFMA regulation writing team. As I thought about what I would take on the journey, I came up with a few essentials: a mirror, a crucifix, a wooden stake, wreaths of garlic. You get the picture--find a way to drive a wooden stake through the heart of PLANNING. It didn't surprise me much when I was not selected to be on the team.

So now we get a chance to chat about the process here, at a minimum after the Regulation is published in the Federal Register. It would certainly help if we could see a pre-draft Regulation before it hits the Federal Register. I've asked for it to be shared already, and will repeat the plea here. My feeling is that once it gets in the Federal Register, even though DRAFT it becomes a political football and positions inevitably get entrenched. Better that we get a chance to influence the process before that time.

Feedback: "NIMBYism" Masquerading as a "Paradigm Shift"?

Re: : National Forest Management Act Regulation Rewrite Dialogue (Mark Garland)
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 1999 20:51:06 GMT
From: Doug MacCleery <dmaccleery/>

Last month when the Committee of Scientists was in Washington discussing its report, statements were made by at least one Committee member about the ethical and moral foundations of ecological sustainability on NF lands.

That caused me to prepare the attached paper, Is the Shift to "Ecological Sustainability" or Ecosystem Management on U.S. Public Lands Merely a Sophisticated "NIMBYism" Masquerading as a "Paradigm Shift"?

While not disagreeing that management of land has an ethical content, I assert that without a corresponding focus on resource consumption in the U.S., any ethical weight associated with ecological sustainability is weak indeed. In the face of current consumption, all it amounts to is transferring ecological impacts from one landscape to another (NIMBYism instead of ethics?).

I offer this perspective in repect and deference to the fine contribution the Committee has made, and in the interest of broadening the traditional scope of the debate on sustainability from a focus primarily on land and its use and management to include the consumption side of the equation. Doug MacCleery


Re: : Untitled
From: <unknown>

Idea: Chief Dombeck on "A National Consumption Ethic" and more

Re: Feedback: "NIMBYism" Masquerading as a "Paradigm Shift"? (Doug MacCleery)
Date: Thu, 14 Oct 1999 20:05:56 GMT
From: Moderator <diverson/>

At a recent symposium in Madison, WI titled "Building on Leopold's Vision," Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck titled his remarks "Conservation for a New Century".

Here is one snippet:

Changes in National Forest management in the past decade or more demonstrate the agency's reinvigorated commitment to ecosystem management and collaborative stewardship. What's missing, however, is the recognition that in the absence of a national consumption ethic, our land ethic only shifts our environmental problems to other lands governed by more lenient environmental protections.

Feedback: Advice for the NFMA Regulation Rewrite/ Manual-Handbook Teams

Re: : National Forest Management Act Regulation Rewrite Dialogue (Mark Garland)
Keywords: planning, adaptive management, policy, law, NFMA
Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1999 21:34:37 GMT
From: Dave Iverson <diverson/>

In a little book titled On Writing Well, William Zinser advises, "Write so that you can not possibly be misunderstood." Would that the NFMA regulation writing team - all regulation writing teams - were required to live by that rule. I also wish the NFMA Committee of Scientists had lived better by that rule, but that is a story for another epistle. Finally, as I survey my own writing through the years, I wish that I could live by that rule.

Last Sunday I read through a draft of the NFMA regulation* (Draft #9.0,dated 1/28/99). It seemed to me that in the main the authors were believers in planning as a saving grace for the Forest Service. I can't go there. {But if you read the questions that head up this forum, you might not come to that conclusion -- maybe it is time to revisit them too} If I were writing the NFMA regulation this afternoon, I'd try to embed something akin to a neon sign up front saying "This isn't about planning. It's about adaptive management and working politics where people -- those who hold a stake in the outcome -- are engaged to work out the public interest for public lands."

Adaptive management for public lands requires that we engage "stakeholders" to continually assess the environment and monitor policy, plans and actions to sort out law, policy, program, and project decisions by scale (time and space) to discover the public interest. This means that we follow (or change) law and policy to make increasingly inter-connected program and project decisions. But we can't make such decisions in a vacuum. So assessment, monitoring of past decisions, and evaluation of both (along with policymaking and decisionmaking processes) are necessary components of adaptive management. And it's all done with people who hold a "stake" in the outcome. If we buy into this vision, what do we set as requirements NFMA law, NEPA law, ESA law, etc.?

As I see it, the NFMA regulation should embrace the vision of the Forest Service, but it ought not try to set it. If the Committee of Scientists correctly called the tune -- sustainability to replace maximum sustained yield -- then that message ought to be reflected in and from the Strategic Plan for the USFS (including RPA), the Forest Service Natural Resource Agenda, the Clean Water Action Plan, etc. Pointers to the vision ought to reside in the Regulation, but the regulation itself ought not to be the keeper of the vision.

Since the National Forest Management Act (Section 6 in particular) specifically requires some things, those ought to be dealt with as expeditiously as possible setting needed standards and guidelines where necessary (or better still explaining how they ought to be set in an adaptive management context, leaving discretion where possible). A rule of thumb ought to be: when in doubt leave it out. Planning and plans need to be as simple and conprehensible as possible. This clearly has not been the case up until now. Besides, it has been a quarter of a century since the passage of the NFMA (of 1976)and both science and societal values have changed considerably--so that too must be addressed in the regulation rewrite too ("to the extent practicable" as we say in bureau-speak). Or maybe it could be addressed in something attached to the regulation.

Above all, the emphasis in the regulation rewrite and in any accompanying manuals and handbooks ought to be on changing our "planning culture" toward an adaptive management culture. The previous regulation stressed planning (THE RPA,THE REGIONAL GUIDE, THE FOREST PLAN) as if rational comprehensive planning would be a saving-grace for the Forest Service. As we have seen over and over since the early 1980s, such a vision is flawed. For the foreseeable future we need to embrace adaptive management wherein the Forest plans, still legally required, become a loose-leaf collection of assessment information and policy/program/project decisions made at various scales with appropriate others who share issues, concerns, and landscapes. We need to address how these decisions are made in compliance with law.

Since adaptive management embraces, but does not single out planning, we might take a cue for our planning from county and municipal general plans. These documents (and the zoning maps that accompany them) stress the positive, a vision for the future. There is a shadow-side (a "constraint" side) to general plans, of course, found in the ordinances that guide development under the plan. But these are not stressed in development of the plan. Instead, vision for the future is the focus. Furthermore, there is no general plan that I'm familiar with that attempts to show a schedule of events toward that future. That is left to continuously adapting processes of implementation. Such a vision would call into question current (1/28/99)requirements for "a three-year schedule of anticipated goods and services based on a reasonable estimate of agency budget" as part of the forest plan.

Are we ready to embrace an adaptive management future? Can we simplify our Land Use Plans to the standard of county zoning plans, while tying to policy and program decisions and structuring accountability into the process at all levels? It's a tall order and a different future but if any of you are as tired as I am of so-called 'rational comprehensive planning' that is nothing but failure heaped on failure then this might give the US Forest Service a fighting chance.

P.S. I'm sure some of you are frustrated because you can't even see the NFMA regulation yet because some people in the Forest Service believe (mistakenly I suspect) that there is no way to share the regulation with some without draining the treasury to find means to share it with anyone who might have a passing fancy to see it. That is the kindest spin I can come up with as to why a pre-draft NFMA regulation is not now available. I continue my efforts to make it available as soon as possible.

More: 7 Guidelines for the NFMA Regulation Rewrite Effort

Re: Feedback: Advice for the NFMA Regulation Rewrite/ Manual-Handbook Teams (Dave Iverson)
Keywords: sustainability, stewardship, National Forests, management, complexity, wickedness
Date: Tue, 08 Jun 1999 16:38:43 GMT
From: Dave Iverson <diverson/>

7 Guidelines for the NFMA Regulation Rewrite Effort
Dave Iverson

After reading through the Committee of Scientists Report and reflecting on the task ahead, I put together this list of 7 things that I believe need to jump out at readers of the NFMA regulation and supplementary manual/handbook directives:

  1. "Sustainability" is embraced as the focal point for all management and planning.

  2. "Building Stewardship Capacity for Sustainability" is embraced in all policy-making and management -- helping people make decisions about their forests and to learn about the importance of the environment in their lives. National Forest decisions are increasingly interwoven into land management decisions made in multi-agency collaborative planning that unites several agencies focused on meaningful landscapes and policy questions.

  3. NFMA National Forest Management is clearly labeled "adaptive management," not just planning as has been standard in the past.
    • Management (policy development, program development, planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, learning) is cast up as: systems oriented (hierarchy, scale, ...), people centered ("The People's Forests"), principle based (adaptive management/working politics principles), purpose focused (sustainability, Forest Service Natural Resource Agenda, sense of place, ...), environmentally fit (NEPA, ESA, Clean Air and Water, ...)
    • Monitoring and Evaluation is dynamic, updated frequently according to cycle lengths that follow changed conditions.
    • Assessment, planning and monitoring is done at appropriate scales (time and space) working to engage people, who hold a "stake" in outcomes, in forums appropriate to decisions to be made. Planning is generally done in multi-agency/multiple-party settings for most decisions--except trivial ones. Decisions recognize uncertainty and outright "surprise" inherent in open, adaptive social and environmental systems.

  4. Management decision-making recognizes inherent "wickedness," policy paradoxes really, of public choice problems and therefore shuns processes designed for traditional problem-solving -- developed to solve complex but not wicked problems. See, for example Shifting Public Values for Forest Management: Making Sense of Wicked Problems.

  5. Cumulative effects of decisions are addressed, recognizing that the future is at best a guess and that adaptive management decisions will be adjusted and changed through time.
    • Formal NEPA-based cumulative effects assessments are done at the time projects (or groups of projects) are envisioned and designed, sequentially addressing the added effects of said projects (and others likely to be designed in the future) and revisiting the worth of policies at each step.
    • Policies and programs are designed and implemented only after thoughtfully peering into an unknown and sometimes unknowable future, trying to see whether or not such policies and programs make sense for people and the environment both now and for the long, long term. This policy analysis is done recognizing that as we know more and as conditions change policy shifts will be necessary. Such policy- and program-level "peering" into the future is NOT subject to strict NEPA evaluation, but must be done through public engagement in dialogue.

  6. Species Viability and/or Biodiversity considerations, along with ecosystem integrity generally, continue to be very important and are adequately addressed in adaptive management regulation and methods.

  7. NFMA adaptive management guidance is structured with an eye toward simplicity -- to be done by real people, in real time, without draining the treasury. Processes are at once simple and able to deal with the complexity that surrounds us.

Overall Look and Feel of NFMA Plans: From the Committee of Scientists:

"Land- and resource-management plan should be in the form of a loose-leaf notebook that contains all the policy directives, strategies, and implementation proposals from decisions made at all levels of the planning process. It should be the official repository of decisions big and small that have been made and reviewed in the strategic and landscape-level planning processes. It must also contain the monitoring methods that will be implemented as well as the evaluation results from monitoring. Because this model of the land- and resource-management plan is different than that employed during the first round of NFMA planning, the process of plan amendment is also different. Rather than a formal process involving review and comment, these loose-leaf plans are dynamic and evolving, readily reflecting and accommodating the outcomes of adaptive management. Thus, as decisions are revisited and revised in response to changing social understanding, natural and social events, and policy priorities, the loose-leaf notebook can immediately reflect those changes. Consequently, any amendments made to these plans reflect decisions that have been made and reviewed elsewhere." (Committee of Scientists Report, p. 112)

Footnote on Forest Plan Revision: What is the point of a "revision"? It isn't clear a term like "revision" even applies to these new loose-leaf plans unless it is staged as a periodic, major moment for reflection and public engagement to see whether or not a forest is actually following a course that makes sense in a law, policy, politics, social/community sense? In short, the focal point for revision might be a simple question, "Is each forest really practicing adaptive ecosystem management?"

P.S. Rumors continue that a preliminary version of the Draft NFMA Regulation will be available on the Internet before a proposed June 12 meeting between the Committee of Scientists and the US Forest Service NFMA regulation and manual/handbook writing teams. If so, we'll try to make sure you can find it.

None: regulations or manual directives?

Re: : National Forest Management Act Regulation Rewrite Dialogue (Mark Garland)
Date: Wed, 19 May 1999 16:05:03 GMT
From: <>

Rumor has it that the draft NFMA regulations will be limited to the COS' proposed regulations on ecological sustainability and purpose/goals/principles (p. 149-152 and 175-181 of final report), and that the remainder of the NFMA planning requirements will be contained in the Forest Service Manual and Handbook directives. I see two big problems with this approach, from the environmentalist perspective. First, regulations are legally binding on agencies, but agency manuals and handbooks generally are not (there is conflicting caselaw on the issue). Many of us would object to having key planning requirements (e.g. clearcutting restrictions) become unenforceable in court. Second, Section 6(g) of the NFMA requires the Secretary to promulgate regulations that "set out the process for the development and revision of the land management plans, and the guidelines and standards prescribed by this subsection...." The guidelines and standards in Section 6(g) cover such topics as soil, water, and fish habitat protection; 5-year reforestation; and clearcutting guidelines. Therefore, in order to ensure legal enforceability and compliance with Section 6(g) of NFMA, the regulations should not be limited to the COS proposals.

Ok: Clean Water Act Policy IS available for preview and commentary

Re: : National Forest Management Act Regulation Rewrite Dialogue (Mark Garland)
Keywords: Clean Water Act, Proposed Strategy
Date: Wed, 07 Jul 1999 19:24:41 GMT
From: Dave Iverson <diverson/>

In stark contrast to the secretive way the NFMA regulation rewrite effort is progressing -- in anticipation of a Federal Register Draft reportedly forthcoming in August -- the Clean Water Act "Proposed Strategy" IS available on the internet. On June 14, 1999 a "working draft" of a "Proposed Strategy for a Unified Watershed Approach to Federal Land and Resource Management" was unveiled on the internet and elsewhere. Here is a synopsis and a hyperlink so you can take a look. If anyone wanders into this disucssion you can at least switch gears and work on this, related effort while we continue to wait to see if any advance copy of the NFMA regs will be made available prior to the Federal Register Draft. d.

"SUMMARY: The President's February 1998 Clean Water Action Plan: Restoring and Protecting America's Waters (Plan) directs the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior to develop a unified Federal policy in consultation with other Federal agencies, States and Tribes, and interested stakeholders. The resulting policy will provide a framework for a watershed approach to management of Federal lands and resources.

"This working draft of the proposed policy is the collaborative effort of several Federal agencies. It is offered here as a starting point for early discussion with States and Tribes by the Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and the Interior (DOI), prior to its formal release for public comment through the Federal Register. The President directed us to begin discussions with States and Tribes, and publish a proposal in the Federal Register this summer for public comment."

Goals and commitments for federal agencies in proposed policy:

  • To use a consistent and scientific approach to managing lands and resources and to assess, protect and restore watersheds.
  • To select specific watersheds in which to focus our budgetary and other resources and accelerate improvements in water quality and watershed condition.
  • To use the results of watershed assessments to guide planning and management activities.
  • To work closely with States, Tribes, local governments and stakeholders to implement this policy.
  • To meet our Clean Water Act responsibility to adhere to Federal, State, Tribal, interstate, and local water quality requirements to the same extent as non-governmental entities.
  • To take steps to ensure that Federal land and resource management actions are consistent with Federal, State, Tribal, and where appropriate, local government water quality management

The proposed policy, a watershed approach to federal land and resource management, emphasizes the following:

  • Assessing the function and condition of watersheds; Incorporating watershed goals in federal agency planning and programs;
  • Enhancing pollution prevention;
  • Improving monitoring;
  • Restoring watersheds;
  • Recognizing waters of exceptional value; and Expanding collaboration among agencies, States, Tribes, and interested stakeholders.
If interested you should take a look at the USFS Proposed Strategy for a Unified Watershed Approach to Federal Land and Resource Management website.

News: NFMA Regulation "Proposed Rule" Available

Re: : National Forest Management Act Regulation Rewrite Dialogue (Mark Garland)
Keywords: National Forests, NFMA, Regulation
Date: Thu, 30 Sep 1999 17:35:25 GMT
From: Dave Iverson <diverson/>

The NFMA Regulation "Proposed Rule" and much more is "out there," alive and well on the Internet. You can find the Draft Regulation and much more at

But what is "truth" when it comes to "regulation?" Who knows? Some people have already said that this regulation is just a "warmed over" version of the Committee of Scientists vision document, Sustaining the People's Land. Some of these same observers suggest that what is lacking in the "regs" is a clear process for achieving desired ends. And that such "process" is really what regulation is supposed to do. The Forest Service denies this allegation. In the "overview" at the NFMA website (above) the seventh "difference" between existing NFMA regulation and the proposal says: "The current regulation describes how to write a forest plan, while the proposed rule describes how to do forest planning." Both "process" and the "ends themselves" are likely to be discussed and debated as this new Regulation is batted around by the various interests.

As per "process, never fear: the Forest Service is working on the process details. We will all see what is intended as detailed "process" soon enough in "manual" and "handbook" directives. The devil, should there be one, may be found in the details or it might be in the proposed rule. Any of it can be changed through deliberative process as the Regulation moves from draft to final. As for me, I'm amazed that my agency could still cling to a dream that this harmonic convergence of social value systems will happen in the "three years" allotted to move from broad-scale assessment to forest plan revisions. But that is exactly what I read in the proposal. Maybe I'm reading something into the regulation that isn't there.

Some years ago, a professor friend told me of a study of difficult "social choice" problems. He said that they have a life-cycle that often spans a decade or so, patterned after what some call the "grieving process." The stages of public awareness/acceptance of major lifestyle changes -- e.g. loss of traditional employment, "special places," or both -- generally takes the form: denial and shock, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance/resolution. Such stuff takes time, whether we are grieving the loss of a loved one or a cherished lifestyle choice. I'm also amazed that (to my knowledge) the Forest Service hasn't yet invested time to really understand the workings of "civic discovery processes" for Collaborative Stewardship, and the psychological processes needed to cope with deep-seated change. But maybe this too has been going on, hidden from view during the six months that we've been patiently waiting to see anything in terms of a draft or pre-draft of the NFMA regulation.

Let's see if we can jumpstart this online discussion of the NFMA Regulation. And remember to visit the other discussion forums on Eco-Watch at

Feedback: First pass comments

Re: News: NFMA Regulation "Proposed Rule" Available (Dave Iverson )
Keywords: National Forests, NFMA, Regulation
Date: Thu, 07 Oct 1999 04:37:56 GMT
From: Tom Haswell <>

I'm generally supportive of much that the Committee of Scientists wrote, and the proposed regs seem to draw on and follow their recommendations. That said, I'm left with the feeling that the regs will let the cat (or something) out of the bag with precious little in the way of public or legal mechanism to corral it once it is loose and up to no good....

1. Sustainability: For whom, of what, by when? (To paraphrase Marion Clawson). Creative land managers will find this nebulous concept will fit any vision of the future. Reliance on historic conditions can allow a 100,000 acre "stand replacing event", just like the one 200 or 400 years ago. It is just as "sustainable" as that event was.

Many concepts are seemingly laudable - leaving options for the future, for example. But nothing is enforcable, and nothing is spelled out. Leaving it all up to the potential tyranny of locals and the local FS supervisor.

2. Planning is now a never ending process, with the need for public involvement or updates entirely up to the local forest supervisor. Any appeal process is now before the fact. Some of the most flagrant abuses I have seen are decisions made AFTER the EIS and ROD. You only see them when you go out and monitor the sale activities after the trees are cut and the roads put in.

One cannot miss a meeting, without the risk of missing a plan update or decision. I can tell you as a participant in these, that the public is always manipulated. The FS knows beforehand what the "plan" is, and that "plan" is exactly what ends up happening. The level of information and homework that is required makes it impossible for any part-time John Q. Public to effectively participate. I have trouble making the meetings and doing the homework, and I'm retired!

I'm a believer in a local process, but the ones that have worked have taken extraordinary energy and time from the locals. I'm an even bigger believer in field trips and the on-the-ground aspects of planning and monitoring - I learn a lot more, see more issues, and develop empathy with the land that I never get in a planning meeting. I didn't see a word about any of this in the regs.

3. Getting local managers to take responsibility for the forests is what Norm Johnson and many others (including me) feel is necessary - plans and projects always are site specific. I know some supervisors who will do a good job, I know some who will be terrible. Many managers and operations folks in the FS still don't get it, and these regs will give them free rein.

4. The link to Congressional budgets is still what breaks the process. The reliance on monitoring will require money that doesn't exist. (Just as the NWFP has never been funded). Actually, the FS managers follow the money, just like any manager in the private sector, and these regs do nothing to change the flow of money in the FS (and that flow rewards cutting timber).

5. Reliance on scientists is a good change, but who is a scientist? And who selects them, and how many, and are they representative of mainstream thinking, or a backwater conservative (and there are lots of them). Are they silviculturists and foresters who see only the trees or are they the much despised 'ologists who see more? Compare the difference in "science" between the Forest-Health Report or Forest of Discord with the NWFP (or with the Comittee of Scientists for that matter).

Oh, well. That all said, the changes proposed in my view are probably worth trying, and amount to another grand experiment (in my view). Whether they work or not will ultimately depend on the FS managers in place, their personal reward system and their beliefs as to what the FS is all about, and whether the regs empower positive change within the FS. (And it all depends on Congress, of course, and whatever the new administration decides to do). Meanwhile, the big trees are still going down (albeit a temporarly pause), and the NSO and salmon are still in decline. Such a legacy we leave ..... Sorry for the editorial comment at the end.

Tom Haswell 541-757-7608

News: NFMA Comments Now Due by Feb. 3, 2000

Re: : National Forest Management Act Regulation Rewrite Dialogue (Mark Garland)
Date: Fri, 10 Dec 1999 18:04:37 GMT
From: Moderator <diverson/>

The "heads-up" just blasted into our internal email. Thought some of you might want to know.

"The Department has approved a 30 day extension for the public comment period on the proposed planning regulations. The comment period will end on February 3, 2000.

This will be published in the Fed Reg early next week. We will update both the intranet and internet web sites."


Jonathan Stephens

USDA-Forest Service/WO

Ecosystem Management Staff

IBM: jstephen/wo

Internet: jonathan.stephens/

Phone: (202) 205-0948 FAX: (202) 205-1012


Feedback: K. Norman Johnson's comments on NFMA "proposed rule"

Re: : National Forest Management Act Regulation Rewrite Dialogue (Mark Garland)
Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2000 22:10:37 GMT
From: Moderator <diverson/>

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 4 Jan 2000 15:20:10 -0800 (PST)
From: Norman Johnson
To: planreg/
Subject: comments on planning rule

January 4, 2000

CAET-USDA, Att. Planning Rule
Forest Service, USDA
200 East Broadway, Room 103
P.O. Box 7669
Missoula, Montana 59807

Dear Sir or Madam:

I am writing you to express my comments on the proposed rule to guide land and resource management planning for the National Forest System (36 CFR Parts 217 and 219) that was published in the Federal Register on October 5, 1999.

I am Dr. K. Norman Johnson and I am a Professor of Forest Resources, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon. I have been involved in national forest planning since the early 1970s as a developer of planning models and planning methodologies. Most recently, I was Chairman of the Committee of Scientists advising the Secretary of Agriculture and the Chief of the Forest Service on improvements in land and resource planning on the national forests and grasslands.

I write you today as a citizen interested in management of the national forests. My comments are my own--they do not reflect the views of Oregon State University or of the Committee of Scientists.

Much of the proposed planning rule shows great promise in guiding land and resource planning. The recognition of all three components of sustainability---ecological, economic, and social---as the overall goal for management, the integration of science into planning, the emphasis on a collaborative approach to planning, and the recognition of the broader landscape in which the national forests exist should help place land and resource planning on a solid footing.

I am, though, deeply troubled by one aspect of the proposed planning rule--the seeming overemphasis on the ecological aspects of sustainability. This is demonstrated, in general, by the much more detailed treatment of ecological sustainability in the text and by emphasis on ecological sustainability in planning goals and approaches. As an example, 219.7 (Plan decisions that guide future actions) states that one type of plan decision is setting desired resource conditions to achieve long-term sustainability. This section goes on to state: "Desired resource conditions may include, but are not limited to, the desired watershed and ecological conditions and aquatic and terrestrial habitat characteristics." By not mentioning economic and social aspects of desired resource conditions, the impression is left that sustainability is identified only with ecological conditions.

Most specifically, I am troubled by the requirement that plan decisions "provide for ecological conditions such that there is a high likelihood of maintaining viability of native and desired non-native species over time within the plan area (219.20(b) (8)." I believe that this requirement, as written, will seriously undermine the ability of the Forest Service to achieve the broad definition of sustainability stated in the proposed rule and to meet the mission of the Forest Service of providing for multiple-use of the national forests and grasslands.

There is no question, as the proposed rule acknowledges, that planning must be directed toward ensuring the ecological sustainability of our watersheds, forests, and rangelands. By interpreting this goal as requiring that plan decisions "provide for ecological conditions such that there is a high likelihood of maintaining viability of native and desired non-native species...", though, the proposed rule will make wildlife protection the dominant, and in many cases, the exclusive goal of national forest planning. No matter what the cost to other resource uses and no matter what our knowledge of the species involved, this rule requires that a high likelihood of viability be sought. As a result, planning will be consumed by the need to meet this requirement, other considerations and values will be neglected, and the national forests will be unable to fulfill their historical role in American life of providing for a wide variety of goods, services, benefits and values in ways that best meet the needs of the American people. I urge that you reconsider this requirement.

Best regards,               

  Dr. K. Norman Johnson
28831 Tampico Road
     Corvallis, Oregon 97331

Feedback: Andy Stahl's comments on NFMA "proposed rule"

Re: : National Forest Management Act Regulation Rewrite Dialogue (Mark Garland)
Date: Fri, 14 Jan 2000 23:03:39 GMT
From: Moderator <diverson/>

Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics
P.O. Box 11615, Eugene, Oregon 97440
Telephone: 541-484-2692 Fax: 541-484-3004 Email:

January 7, 2000

Attn. Planning Rule
Forest Service, USDA
200 East Broadway, Room 103
P.O. Box 7669
Missoula, Montana 59807

Dear Chief Dombeck:

      Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed 36 CFR Part 219 planning rules. FSEEE is a partnership of Forest Service natural resource managers and citizen owners of the national forests with over 13,000 members throughout the nation. I am pleased to provide these comments on their behalf.1


Insofar as the Forest Service Must Plan, Make Plans Geographically Small and Procedurally Diverse.

      The Forest Service’s first experience with forest-wide planning does not bode well for the future. Forest plans that were predicted to cost about $1 million each eventually consumed more than 10 times that amount, for total costs of well over $2 billion. It took the agency 15 years to write plans with a 15-year shelf life. Thus the plans and the data they relied upon were generally out-of-date before release. Forest planning during the 1980s did little to resolve controversy over national forest management; in fact, a case could be made that plans galvanized more controversy than would otherwise have occurred.

      The excessive time, money, and conflict associated with planning demoralized many of the agency’s best and brightest employees. The Forest Service changed from an agency of doers to an agency of planners. Today the Forest Service appears more concerned with getting the process right than with the quality of its decisions.

      Though life before NFMA planning was not all rosy, there is much that can be learned by contrasting the unit plans of the 70s with the forest-wide and regional plans of the 80s. Unit plans were comprehensive, integrated plans that followed NEPA procedures, but for ranger district-sized chunks of land. Some of these plans were rather good, e.g., the Umatilla’s unit plans. None generated the controversy associated with forest plans. They were relatively cheap to write, easy to understand, and made decisions for landscapes small enough for people to relate to and managers to understand. To the extent that issues crossed unit plan boundaries, consistency was achieved through policymaking at the forest or regional level. However, the planning tools and processes used in unit planning varied greatly from one unit to another. That diversity was one of the unit planning’s strengths, as it better ensured that the right tool for the place was used, avoiding the one-size-fits-all problems with 1980s forest planning, e.g., FORPLAN.

      Could the Forest Service turn the clock back to unit planning? At least in regard to geographic scope, it could. RPA/NFMA leaves to the Forest Service’s discretion the selection of the appropriate land area for its plans (“Secretary . . . shall develop . . . plans for units of the National Forest System . . .”). The selection of the unit size is entirely up to the agency. At a time when the Forest Service is becoming mired in multi-regional plans with an ever larger geographic scope, it may be time to learn from past lessons and plan small.

      In sum, centralized planning has failed most everywhere, in and out of the Forest Service. Insofar as the law permits, the Forest Service should seek a planning process that focuses planning at the smallest geographic area possible, allows the planning process to be adapted to the peculiarities of the planning area, and devotes higher levels of the agency to policymaking and oversight, not planning.

Policymaking Without NFMA-Style Planning

      Most of the crises that beset the Forest Service since the age of environmentalism have concerned conflicts over values, not individual land use decisions. Value conflicts are intractable to planners and planning. They can only be resolved through the political process of policymaking. In its zeal to plan its way out of value conflicts, the Forest Service has all but lost the art of effective policymaking.

      On those rare occasions when Congress has fulfilled its responsibilities to make policy for the Forest Service, the agency often ignored or acted contrary to that direction, e.g., the 1974 “Church” guidance on clearcutting. Whether due to the arrogance of professionalism or the lure of timber dollars to the agency’s off-budget trust funds, the Forest Service has had a difficult time accepting and implementing the policy direction it has received from higher authorities.

      Policymaking does not require NFMA-style planning. In fact, many policies can be made without invoking even the formal procedures of NEPA, e.g., Chief Dombeck’s moratorium on roads in roadless areas. Other examples of policymaking include the (belated) reduction in clearcut logging on national forests and implementation of dispersed recreation user fees. Neither was accomplished through NFMA or NEPA planning.2

      In sum, policymaking is a prerequisite to successful planning, for through policymaking the goals of planning are established. In the absence of policymaking, planning becomes a fruitless exercise in goal-less bureaucratic machinations.


§ 219.2 Goals and principles for planning

      The rules identify five goals for planning: 1) assures ecological sustainability, 2) promotes economic and social sustainability, 3) is integrated into the broader landscape, 4) engages people in national forest stewardship, and, 5) guides national forest stewardship. These mom-and-apple-pie goals are nice, but hardly measurable or well-defined. They are akin to telling one’s architect, “design me a pretty house that is durable and comfortable.” Such goals would be of little practical assistance to the architect in designing your dream house. Meaningful goals must be measurable; most of the planning goals are not.

§ 219.20 Ecological sustainability

      At least two members of the Committee of Scientists have protested this rule’s requirement that plans must provide for ecological conditions sufficient to provide a “high likelihood of maintaining viability of native and desired non-native species over time within the plan area . . .”3 They object that the protection of species viability on the national forests places wildlife above timber (and other activities that may threaten species viability) in the hierarchy of national forest uses. That’s true. That’s also what the law requires.

      Congress has spoken in unambiguous terms in both the National Forest Management Act and the Endangered Species Act that the protection of wildlife from extinction should receive the highest possible priority in the management of our public lands. The courts have confirmed that this is Congress’ priority. See, e.g., Seattle Audubon Society v. Evans, 952 F.2d 297 (9th Cir. 1991), TVA v. Hill, 437 U.S. 153, 98 S.Ct. 2279 (1978).

      Thus, to the extent members of the committee object to the protection of species viability, they should take up their cause with Congress. The Forest Service and this rule are obligated to obey the law as written.

§ 219.28 Determination of land suitable for timber removal

      The regulations must ensure that timber will be harvested only where “soil, slope or other watershed conditions” will not be “irreversibly damaged.” The proposed rule at § 219.28(3) does not explicitly protect “slope or other watershed conditions,” preferring instead to substitute the phrase “ecosystem integrity.” The rule should make explicit that ecosystem integrity includes, inter alia, watershed conditions. NFMA also requires that plans “insure” that timber will only be harvetsed where soil and watershed conditions are not irreversibly damaged. The proposed rule requires that technology be available to prevent such damage, but it does not require that the protective technology actually be implemented. The rule’s failure to ensure that the technology necessary to prevent irreversible damage be made a mandatory condition of site-specific implementation falls well short of the NFMA’s mandate that plans “insure” protection.

      The proposed rule omits NFMA’s requirement that timber be harvested only where “protection is provided for streams, streambanks, shorelines, lakes, wetlands, and other bodies of water from detrimental changes in water temperatures, blockages of water courses, and deposits of sediment, where harvests are likely to seriously and adversely affect water conditions or fish habitat.” 16 U.S.C. § 1604(g)(3)(E)(iii) (emphasis added). At no point does the proposed rule implement this mandatory protection from detrimental (i.e., “harmful” or “damaging”) changes in water conditions.4

      The proposed rule also omits all of NFMA’s requirements that the rule 1) limit even-aged silviculture to those applications where it is appropriate to meet the plan, 2) establish maximum size limits for openings, 3) protect soil, watershed, fish, wildlife, recreation, esthetic resources, and the regeneration of timber, and, 4) limit clearcutting to where it is the optimum method. 16 U.S.C. § 1604(g)(3)(F). Insofar as the issue of clearcutting galvanized the passage of NFMA, the Forest Service’s complete omission of these restrictions from the proposed rule makes little sense (and is illegal).

§ 218.29 Limitation of timber removal

      NFMA opposes an additional restriction on timber removal amounts beyond those identified in the proposed rule – harvest levels must be decreased at the end of each planning period if intensive management practices, such as reforestation, thinning, and tree improvement, cannot be successfully implemented or funds are not received to continue them substantially as planned. 16 U.S.C. § 1604(g)(3)(D)(ii). Insofar as Forest Service funding to implement planned intensive management practices has generally fallen well below planned levels, this provision is of particular significance. NFMA requires it be included in the rule.

      Thank you for this opportunity to comment on the proposed rule.


Andy Stahl
Executive Director

1My personal history with forest planning began in late 1979 when the Forest Service hired me as a part of the Eisenhower Consortium to train forest planning teams in the new NFMA planning process. My particular expertise was in the use of linear programming to allocate land and schedule activities, particularly silvicultural projects. Later I represented clients ranging from loggers to environmentalists in many of the forest planning controversies of the 1980s, including the northern spotted owl dispute.
2Section 219.3(b) indicates that “national level planning” will set “long-term strategic goals, objectives, and outcome measures.” Insofar as the planning rules make no further mention of “national level planning,” e.g., how it is to be carried out, it might be wise to change “national level planning” to “national level policymaking” to distinguish whatever this process might be from the planning processes discussed in the proposed rule.
3 Dr. Roger Sedjo objected to the committee’s recommendations in this regard and Dr. Norm Johnson objected in his personal comments on this rule.
4 Proposed section 219.20, ecological sustainability, requires that planning decisions “provide for the protection and/or restoration of . . . water resources . . .” However, this provision fails to identify any standard of protection. NFMA requires protection from “detrimental changes,” i.e., a nondegradation standard. The regulations must provide for no less a level of protection.

None: Forest Guardians and Wilderness Society Comments on "Proposed Rule"

Re: : National Forest Management Act Regulation Rewrite Dialogue (Mark Garland)
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2000 16:04:55 GMT
From: Moderator <diverson/>

Forest Guardians NFMA Comments

The Wilderness Society NFMA Comments

Feedback: no surprises here

Re: : Forest Guardians and Wilderness Society Comments on "Proposed Rule" (Moderator)
Date: Mon, 31 Jan 2000 19:16:24 GMT
From: bruce <unknown>

... Distant groups with zero knowledge of the area should have more say in decisions than local residents.

... Appeals after decisions are more effective at delaying projects than working to solve problems together.

... Science only counts when it supports your objectives.


None: NFMA "Proposed Rule" Comments Now Due Feb. 10th

Re: : National Forest Management Act Regulation Rewrite Dialogue (Mark Garland)
Date: Wed, 02 Feb 2000 22:25:32 GMT
From: Moderator <>

The Forest Service has extended the deadline for comments on the NFMA Proposed Rule. The new deadline is February 10, 2000. (See: National Forest Management Act Proposed Rule website at

Note: Iverson's Comments on the NFMA "Proposed Rule"

Re: : NFMA "Proposed Rule" Comments Now Due Feb. 10th (Moderator)
Date: Thu, 10 Feb 2000 22:09:16 GMT
From: Dave Iverson <>

Comment on the Proposed Rule for “Land and Resource Management Planning”
Submitted by Dave Iverson, USFS R4, Ogden, Utah

Let’s look at the NFMA Proposed Rule in the context of seven questions, along with my responses to them:

1. Is "Sustainability" embraced as the focal point for all management and planning?

Response: Yes for land and resource planning, but there are problems, particularly in dealing with the items below, particularly items 2 and 6. It remains to be seen whether “sustainability” becomes a focal point for all policy, management, and budgeting generally.

2. Is "Building Stewardship Capacity for Sustainability" embraced in all policy-making and management -- helping people make decisions about their forests and to learn about the importance of the environment in their lives? National Forest decisions are increasingly interwoven into land management decisions made in multi-agency collaborative planning that unites several agencies focused on meaningful landscapes and policy questions. Does the rule move us in this direction?

Response: The emphasis in the rule, taken as a whole, seems to be on science and management professionalism rather than dialogue and social learning. I had hoped to see the “proposed rule” address the need to bring science into dialogue with management and both into dialogue with the public. Instead, the proposed rule is “sprinkled” with words about “collaboration” but without making for a “compelling need” to engage in public dialogue on policy, program, and project aspects of adaptive management. It is important to note that “policy” and “program” aspects of adaptive management are ignored in the rule. My guess is that the focus on land, environment, and resources was intentional. But to believe that “Land and Resource” Assessments and Plans can serve as a guide to the Forest Service in the absence of policy and program consideration is a delusion. At least that is the way I see it.

3. Is NFMA National Forest Management is clearly labeled "Adaptive Management," not just "planning" as has been standard in the past? What indicators are present that such a transformation is in effect? Here are a few:

  • “Adaptive Management” is used to replace the many references to “Planning” in the current “rule.
  • Management (policy development, program development, planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, learning) is cast up as: systems oriented (hierarchy, scale, ...), people centered ("The People's Forests"), principle based (adaptive management/working politics principles), purpose focused (sustainability, Forest Service Natural Resource Agenda, sense of place, ...), environmentally fit (NEPA, ESA, Clean Air and Water, ...)
  • Monitoring and Evaluation is dynamic, updated frequently according to cycle lengths that follow changed conditions.
  • Assessment, planning and monitoring is done at appropriate scales (time and space) working to engage people, who hold a "stake" in outcomes, in forums appropriate to decisions to be made. Planning is generally done in multi-agency/multiple-party settings for most decisions--except trivial ones. Decisions recognize uncertainty and outright "surprise" inherent in open, adaptive social and environmental systems.

Response: No! It looks like the monkey of “Planning” with a capital “P” is still squarely placed on the back of Forest Service managers.

4. Does management decision-making recognize inherent "wickedness," policy paradoxes really, of public choice problems and therefore shun processes designed for traditional problem-solving -- developed to solve complex but not wicked problems? See, for example Shifting Public Values for Forest Management: Making Sense of Wicked Problems.

Response: No. The “proposed rule” still reads as if science and information will solve the “problem.” In my view nothing could be further from the truth. People will not magically come together to work out the public interest by converging on Forest Service assessment and planning exercises. People are crying out for influence on all policy and program management. And people are tired of dead-end planning. The rule should at a minimum point to a “New Deal” with regard to public engagement in adaptive management.

5. Are cumulative effects of decisions are addressed, recognizing that the future is at best a guess and that adaptive management decisions will be adjusted and changed through time? That is:

  • Are formal NEPA-based cumulative effects assessments done at the time projects (or groups of projects) are envisioned and designed, sequentially addressing the added effects of said projects (and others likely to be designed in the future) and revisiting the worth of policies at each step?
  • Are policies and programs designed and implemented only after thoughtfully peering into an unknown and sometimes unknowable future, trying to see whether or not such policies and programs make sense for people and the environment both now and for the long, long term? This policy analysis must be done recognizing that as we know more and as conditions change policy shifts will be necessary. Such policy- and program-level "peering" into the future would NOT necessarily be subject to strict NEPA evaluation, but must be done through public engagement in dialogue. NEPA could be used, if desired, to address context for programmatic decisions, with “tiering” used to subordinate “project level” decisions to broader scale decisions at scales (one or more) above the project.

Response: I see hints of this, but nothing definitive.

6.Are Species Viability and/or Biodiversity considerations, along with other “sustainability concerns” adequately addressed in adaptive management regulation and methods?

Response: Considerations for species viability and biodiversity the “proposed rule” hinge on definitions for “ecosystem integrity” and “historical range of variability.” I’ll defer to Ariel Lugo’s comments on these matters. I agree with Lugo that,

“This whole scheme is embedded in a sliding trajectory of global change. The Earth changes constantly due to both natural and anthropogenic causes. Global change needs to be considered in the rule. Returning to pre-European conditions is probably impossible, but useful from a scientific point of view as it provides us understanding to chart the future.”

7.Is NFMA adaptive management guidance structured with an eye toward simplicity -- to be done by real people, in real time, without draining the treasury? That is, are processes at once simple AND able to deal with the complexity that surrounds us?

Response: Not yet. We need to try again with an eye toward developing “adaptive management” guidance with an “eye toward simplicity.”

News: March 2, 2000 House Subcommittee Hearing on NFMA Proposed Rule

Re: : National Forest Management Act Regulation Rewrite Dialogue (Mark Garland)
Keywords: US Forest Service, NFMA Proposed Rule, land and resource managment planning
Date: Tue, 07 Mar 2000 21:33:43 GMT
From: Moderator <>

March 2, 2000: U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on Resources, Subcommittee on Forest and Forest Health held hearings on the NFMA "Proposed Rule." Committee Chairman Helen Chenowith-Hage introduced the hearing as follows:

The proposed rule, drafted by a Committee of Scientists and Forest Service staff, would base all future land management planning on "ecological sustainability," a threshold that is inconsistent with the agency's statutory mandate. This effort has been years in the making, and now it is being rushed through in what clearly appears to be a highly political push to complete the rule before the end of this Admistration's term.

The Forest Service published the current proposed rule (in 38 pages of the Federal Register) on October 5, 1999, for public review and comment. One week later, the President announced his roadless area initiative, and on October 19 the Forest Service published a "notice of intent" to prepare an EIS seeking comment on the roadless area effort, affecting up to 60 million acres of national forest land. On November 24, the agency published a proposed rule on cost recovery for processing special use applications, affecting a wide variety of uses on the national forests. Then on November 30, the Forest Service published a notice and request for public comment on the agency's draft strategic plan, setting overall direction for the agency. Meanwhile, on October 22 the EPA extended the comment period for its proposed rule on "total maximum daily loads," establishing new water quality regulations affecting the national forests.

This short list represents five major rulemakings at the national level, all occurring simultaneously, requiring hundreds of public meetings, public review and development of public comment over a relatively short period of time that included the Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year's holidays. As a result the public, the press, State and local government agencies and even Forest Service employees have been frustrated in their efforts to understand the various rulemakings, the relationship of each to the other, and to develop timely comments as required. The Chief has refused our requests for additional time to comment on a number of these procedings, and he provided only an additional five weeks for comment on the most complex rule of all, the proposed land management planning regulations.

This hearing will focus on the Forest Service's proposed planning rule, the public comment submitted on the proposal and the feasibility of implementing the rule as it has been published. I am eager to hear what our two panels of witnesses have to say, and I caution the Forest Service that given the significance of this and its many other rulemakings under way at this time, you would be well advised to give more time to development of your final rule.

Testimony was taken from Frank S. Priestly (President, Idaho Farm Bureau, Pocatello, ID (who appended comments from the American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF)), Bob Van Aiken (President, FSX (Forest Service Retirees) Club of Washington, D.C.), Charles Wilkinson (Professor, University of Colorado Law School, Boulder, CO) (also a member of NFMA Committee of Scientists), Mike Anderson (The Wilderness Society, Seattle, WA )(also a codrafter of Wilderness Society NFMA Comments(PDF), Steven P. Quarles (Partner, Crowell & Moring, LLP Washington, D.C.) (no testimony hyperlinked at this time), and Jim Furnish (Deputy Chief US Forest Service) (no testimony hyperlinked at this time).

Note: SAF Comments on NFMA Proposed Rule

Re: : National Forest Management Act Regulation Rewrite Dialogue (Mark Garland)
Keywords: US Forest Service, planning, NFMA, SAF
Date: Tue, 07 Mar 2000 21:54:06 GMT
From: Moderator <>

Society of American Foresters (SAF) Comments on the NFMA Proposed Rule.


The Forest Service has spent a great deal of time developing a high quality proposal, and we do appreciate the overall effort. The proposed rule is a reflection of new thinking in managing ecosystems, an understanding of the importance of collaborative processes, and a solid attempt to bring the states into forest planning. The Forest Service has placed important focus on restoration, adaptive management and learning, monitoring and matching proposed actions to realistic budgets. However, much of the proposal deals with philosophy rather than a set of guidelines to aid land managers in the forest planning process. Planning regulations should focus on the process for making decisions, not the philosophy behind them. Congress decides the principles for managing federal lands. Mixing these two objectives—describing a philosophy and a process—contributes to a confusion that does not assist implementers of the regulations nor the public that wishes to work with the Forest Service.

These regulations go beyond their legislative mandate. In many ways the Agency has captured a significant portion of public sentiment in this proposal, but they have also left many people behind. The Society of American Foresters believes that there is no consensus about how the Forest Service should manage the National Forest System. We believe the Forest Service has presented one option with this proposal, but we do not believe the Agency should be presenting new mandates for management. This document is supposed to govern how the Agency plans, not how it wants to change the management priorities of the National Forest System. The forest planning documents produced through the planning process outlined in these proposed rules are a significant expression of public trust in the Forest Service. Individual forest plans are built from the ground up with people at the local level. National interest in the process is represented through the mission of the Agency as established by Congress, though national interests get involved in local processes all the time. People have to understand the purposes of these lands and have confidence that the Forest Service is striving to encompass both local level and national interests to develop a sound forest management plan. If the Forest Service steps outside of their legislative mandate, people and the Congress in particular, will lose trust and confidence in the Agency.

While this effort represents some areas of improvement over the current planning process we believe it should not be adopted as a rule because it:

  • is beyond the scope of current law
  • is not economically feasible
  • is based on unproven science
  • is based on an unclear an unscientific conceptual foundation
  • is unclear as to what specifically the planning process entails
  • uses scientific expertise in an inappropriate and inefficient way
  • promises that science can solve everything has not adequately addressed the flaws in the species viability clause
  • does not adequately link planning documents to budget allocations
  • does not simplify, clarify, or substantially improve the planning process
  • does little to improve the current appeals process
  • adds additional burdensome and costly procedural requirements
We will develop our opposition to the proposal in the following comments, and offer alternatives from our report Forest of Discord: Options for Governing the National Forests and Public Lands, which we submit as additional material for the comment process. We will address the major complaints we have associated with the proposal first, and then discuss individual sections of the rule.

Additionally, we believe this is a major rule in regard to the policies and procedures set forth in the National Environmental Policy Act. We believe the Forest Service should develop an environmental impact statement for these proposed rules.


Disagree: Nat. Assn. of Forest Service Retirees comments on Final NFMA Reg

Re: : National Forest Management Act Regulation Rewrite Dialogue (Mark Garland)
Keywords: NFMA, Planning Regulation, US Forest Serice
Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2001 20:40:34 GMT
From: Moderator <>

In comments dated February 5, 2001, the National Association of Retired Forest Service Employees blasted the Forest Sevice's NFMA Regulation. Here are a few highlights:


…The policy to place ecological sustainability above social and economic concerns, given the statutory mission of the Forest Service, is also not legal. ....

…Requirements for analysis and monitoring in the rule, especially regarding elements of biological diversity such as species, ecosystems and population viability are infeasible scientifically, financially, and legally. ....

…Definitions in the recent regulation, such as range of variability and species viability, are impossible not only to implement, but also meaningless in planning for a future that has more uncertainty than certainty....

In view of these monumental problems, the new planning regulations will result in the wasteful expenditure of millions of dollars in public funds and drawing out the planning process interminably. ....


Re: : Untitled
From: <unknown>

None: NFMA Final Rule, Federal Register November 9, 2000

Re: : National Forest Management Act Regulation Rewrite Dialogue (Mark Garland)
Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2001 18:30:25 GMT
From: Moderator <>

Final Rule, National Forest System Land and Resource Management, November 9, 2000

News: Acting Under Sectretary asks Chief Bosworth to rethink the NFMA Regulation

Re: : NFMA Final Rule, Federal Register November 9, 2000 (Moderator)
Date: Tue, 01 May 2001 22:11:32 GMT
From: Moderator <>

It looks like the Bush Administration wants a different deal for NFMA Regulation. Not the same old deal from the 1982 version of the NFMA Regulation, not the Clinton Administration Regulation of 2000, but a relook at where we ought to be heading. Reminds one of another time when the incoming Reagan Administration threw out the 1979 version of the NFMA regulation, developed by the Carter Administration, and put in its place one more to its liking.

According to the NY Times (4/27/2001),

“A Forest Service report concluded that the rules were impossible to put in place successfully. It said the ‘ecological sustainability first’ mandate is at odds with the reality that forests have ecological, economic and social uses, and is a significant departure from the agency's historic interpretation of its mission.”

“David Tenny, acting deputy undersecretary of the Agriculture Department, which oversees the Forest Service, wrote the Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth Wednesday, directing him to develop a plan to modify parts of the planning rules and resolve the report's major concerns.”

“’The goal is to have a revised rule by the end of the calendar year,’ Tenny wrote.”

If you are interested in looking at the Forest Service Report "NFMA Planning Rule Review: A Report Requested by USDA (Larson, et al. April,2001. USDA)," you can find it and other things at

None: Enviros Worry About Bush Administration "Gutting" Species Viability Requirements

Re: News: Acting Under Sectretary asks Chief Bosworth to rethink the NFMA Regulation (Moderator)
Date: Thu, 03 May 2001 15:43:09 GMT
From: Moderator <>

Much like the angst that has kept meaningful reform of the Endangered Species Act at bay, people don't trust any administration to rewrite the regulation for the National Forest Management Act. Industry proponents didn't trust the Clinton Administration to rewrite the rules, but weren't able to block the rules from emerging in the twilight of that era.

Now it's the environmentalists turn to fret about what the Bush Administration might do to the "NFMA rule." In particular "enviros" worry the the Bush Administration will roll back even the hard fought gains to protect "species viability" that survived the 1979-1982 rule transformation.

For more see the 5/1/2001 Denver Post article titled Clinton-era Forest Rule Dropped.

Note: 2002 NFMA Proposed Rule

Re: : National Forest Management Act Regulation Rewrite Dialogue (Mark Garland)
Keywords: RPA, NFMA, Natonaal, Forest, Planning. Regulation
Date: Tue, 17 Dec 2002 23:13:58 GMT
From: Moderator <>

On December 6, 2002 the Forest Service unveiled its NFMA "Proposed Rule," proposing changes to the National Forest System Land and Resource Management Planning Rule adopted November 9, 2000. You can find the proposal at

The Forest Service has a webpage devoted to the proposed rule at

News: 2004 NFMA Regulation Released

Re: : National Forest Management Act Regulation Rewrite Dialogue (Mark Garland)
Date: Mon, 27 Dec 2004 20:22:36 GMT
From: Moderator <>

On December 22, 2004, the newly issued final NFMA planning regulation was released/published in the Federal Register. There is an associated draft proposal to categorically exclude forest plans from NEPA.

The rule is much streamlined from the 1982 Rule, and leaves much of the details to yet-to-be-seen Manual and Handbook directives.

Some groups praise the streamlined rule, other groups vilify it. you can find news coverage at

In addition, the rule calls for each unit of the national forest system to develop an environmental management system. You can find out more on the webpage at

None: EMS?

Re: News: 2004 NFMA Regulation Released (Moderator)
Date: Mon, 10 Jan 2005 22:53:59 GMT
From: forester <>

Okay, I've read the rule and I still don't understand what an Environmental Management System is. It sounds like some private consultant got the ear of the chief or the undersecretary, and got his system written into the rules. The forest service has used a number of consultants over the years, such as Kepner Tregoe, Shipley's Managing the NEPA Process, Systematic Development of Informed Consent, Management by Objectives. These consultants had some good ideas, but many of their ideas are now obsolete. Would you want any of those systems written into the rules?

Note: Answers and more questions may be found in another forum..

Re: : EMS? (forester)
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2005 21:51:39 GMT
From: Dave Iverson <>


Some answers and more questions can be found in another forum.

Follow this link:

Idea: Forest Polic -Forest Practice Web-log

Re: : National Forest Management Act Regulation Rewrite Dialogue (Mark Garland)
Date: Mon, 25 Apr 2005 20:37:09 GMT
From: Dave Iverson <>

Forest Policy - Forest Practice, at

Add message to: "National Forest Management Act Regulation Rewrite Dialogue"

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