From Personality‐Driven to Institutionally Driven Collaboration by the US Forest Service

Published date01 December 2015
Date01 December 2015
C R Q, vol. 33, no. 2, Winter 2015 149
© 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. and the Association for Confl ict Resolution
Published online in Wiley Online Library ( • DOI: 10.1002/crq.21148
From Personality-Driven to Institutionally Driven
Collaboration by the US Forest Service
Marcelle E. DuPraw
Andrea Bedell-Loucks
Maia J. Enzer
Katie M. Lyon
Daniel Silvas
Laurie A. Thorpe
Peter B. Williams
is article describes an approach being used by the US Department of
Agriculture’s Forest Service to assess and strengthen agency-wide capac-
ity to collaborate eff ectively with external stakeholders, as well as stra-
tegic reasons for investing resources in this endeavor in an era of fi scal
austerity.  e article examines the role of the third-party neutral in
helping agency stakeholders chart the path forward, in the near term
and the longer term, and off ers refl ections on the characteristics of that
role that are most important to the effi cacy of the over-all eff ort in this
particular case.
The national forests in the United States belong to all the country’s citi-
zens, and a good number of those citizens want to have a voice about
how their forests should be managed. In fact, there are so many people who
want to have a say that making that possible and productive has become a
professional specialty in the natural resource management arena. Collab-
orative approaches have gained enthusiastic and widespread, though not
unanimous, support in recent decades, yet they can be labor intensive and
are not always successful.  is conundrum has fueled a growing body of
research into strategies for building collaborative capacity.
C R Q • DOI: 10.1002/crq
e Multiple Use and Sustained Yield Act of 1960 directs the US For-
est Service (USFS), an agency within the US Department of Agriculture
(USDA), to manage the national forests in a way that provides for numer-
ous types of use—timber, range, water, recreation and wildlife—in perpe-
tuity.1 Not surprisingly, this leads to many competing claims as to the best
mix of uses on any given forest.  e level of confl ict peaked with the tim-
ber wars of the 1980s and 1990s, during which environmentalists appealed
and litigated so many forest management plans that the work of the USFS
came to a virtual standstill.
In the years since, the USFS has been working its way toward a more
collaborative approach to managing the national forests. Agency personnel
have tried a variety of collaboration approaches, in both the fi eld and the
policy arena, whenever a line offi cer or enterprising staff er was willing to
provide this style of leadership to fi nd a workable solution to a challenge.
As a result, pockets of collaboration expertise now can be found through-
out the agency.
Leaders in the agency’s Washington, DC, offi ce have taken note of
stakeholders’ positive response to the agency’s use of collaborative forest
resource management and partnerships and their resulting ability to pro-
ceed more eff ectively with the work of the agency.  e cutting-edge ques-
tion is how to integrate collaborative capacities throughout the agency,
shifting the use of collaboration from an individual manager’s inspiration
to an option routinely considered by all agency personnel as a means of
getting things done. As indicated in the “Purpose and Need” section of the
2012 Planning Rule, this recognition was a key driver for the promulga-
tion of the 2012 National Forest System Land Management Planning Rule
under the National Forest Management Act.2
e Planning Rule, itself developed through an award-winning col-
laborative process, calls on USFS personnel all over the country to involve
stakeholders extensively in their forest planning and management eff orts
going forward.3 erefore, it is vitally important to the successful imple-
mentation of the Planning Rule to ensure that fi eld personnel understand
when and how to use collaborative strategies eff ectively. As the successful
conclusion of the Planning Rule development eff ort came into sight, USFS
managers turned their thoughts toward a strategy for cultivating that col-
laborative capacity throughout the agency.
is expansion in collaborative capacity is particularly important since
the Planning Rule is based on an “all lands” approach to stewarding our
national forests and grasslands. “All lands” is a term coined by Agricul-

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