No doubt tired of my whining, Sharon gently threw down the gauntlet — “what you would do if you were Chief for a Year to make things better.” Friday seems a good time to nibble at the bait.
I’d start my tenure by listening to Forest Service leaders. In 2004, Jim Kennedy (Utah State University), Richard Haynes (FS economist) and Xiaoping Zhou (PNW research forester) surveyed line officers gathered at the third National Forest Supervisors’ Conference. The officers ranked the “operational values” they believe the Forest Service rewards, followed by a ranking of the values that participants believe should be rewarded. Most rewarded, in practice, are (1) teamwork, (2) agency loyalty, (3) meeting targets, (4) professional competency, (5) hard work, and (6) promoting a good FS image. What should be most rewarded, the leaders say, are (1) care for ecosystems, (2) professional competency, (3) consensus building, (4) care for employee development, (5) responsiveness to local publics, and (6) concern for future generations.
These results suggest that line officers believe the Forest Service rewards loyalty to the organization, e.g., loyalty to the team, agency, and targets. Kennedy calls this “dog” loyalty: “Dog-loyalty is direct, unswerving, immediate loyalty to the master, that is, the boss or the agency.” Kennedy, J. and Thomas, J.W., “Exit, Voice, and Loyalty of Wildlife Biologists in Public Natural Resource/Environmental Agencies,” in Mangun, W.R. (ed), American fish and wildlife policy, the human dimension. In contrast, many of the values line officers want rewarded (care for ecosystems, consensus building, responsiveness to local publics and concern for future generations), exemplify “cat loyalty” – “a less master-oriented, broader, and more diverse loyalty to the household” – in other words, loyalty to the agency’s mission.
My first priority as Chief would be to work against the bureaucracy’s natural dog-loyal tendencies by pushing cat-loyal practices. Here’s a modest forest planning example.
Has anyone not used the web to find out how others rate a product, like a new car, book, or bicycle (after much research, my new racing machine is a Cannondale CAAD9)? So how about an on-line rating system for forest plans available to those implementing the plans (FS employees), those working on the national forest (contractors, special-use permittees, local governments), and everyone else (visitors)? Here are some rating questions (scale 1-5 with room for comments):
Does the forest plan help you do your job?
Is the plan easy to understand?
Does the plan tell you what you want to know?
A “dog loyal” organization might ask these questions, but would make sure that the answers are hard to find, hidden away in agency files. Cat-loyalists seek transparency because they want to improve their agency’s mission performance (“Caring for the land and serving people”), even at the risk of offending internal vested interests.
So what would you do as Chief?
Roadless (litigation, rulemaking, projects) seem to be of interest to our group as it involves mapping and zoning, and attempting to make some of these designations permanent, through rulemaking rather than legislation. Right now it involves local (state) versus national decision-making, the role of national environmental groups and a host of other themes of interest to us.
I’d like to contribute to this dialogue by reviewing press articles and observing 1) how closely they stay to the facts (clarity and accuracy), 2) their fairness and 3) whom they choose to speak and the accuracy of the statements quoted. I’m expecting that this will be of interest because roadless areas and polices, unlike planning rules, have distinctive facts associated with them- sometimes that may be too complex to get across in a news article.
I’d like to improve the knowledge and the quality of discourse around this issue- which can be fairly ideological. This is not to criticize members of the press; in the space they have, sometimes all they can say is something generally true with quotes from people who have varying degrees of accuracy and agenda associated with their comments. That’s where I think blogging with people interested, and knowledgeable, with varying points of view, will add substantially to public dialogue on this important subject.
Our first example will be this piece from Noelle Straub of Greenwire in today’s New York Times.
I would give it a score of 15. 5 out of 5 for clarity. 5 out of 5 for accuracy. 5 out of 5 for fairness. That’s a 15 out of 15. Congratulations, great way to start us off, Noelle! If this were an iconic American summer sport, you’d have hit it out of the park!
Next week is the summer June 2-4, 2010 Martz Summer Conference 2010
The Past, Present, and Future of Our Public Lands.
University of Colorado Law School
It sounds like John Rupe, Martin and I will all be there. Martin is the moderator of the timber session, and Rick Cables is speaking about Forest Service planning. Scott Fitzwilliams, the White River Forest Supervisor, is speaking on recreation, and Harris Sherman the Undersecretary for Natural Resources is a keynote speaker. With the variety of speakers, I am looking forward to some stimulating discussions to carry forward to this blog.
Question for consideration…
John and I have been talking about using ecosystem services as a broadening of consideration of different uses in forest plans- rather than “desired conditions” talk about desired services provided. Not to quantify them or cost them out, just to talk about what we want from a piece of ground and how those desires interrelate. John and I think that might be an easier shift from multiple uses to ecosystem services. I think he’s going to post in the near future on some of the problems we’ve experienced with the use of desired conditions.
As to sustainability- great concept, but it is difficult to prove anything is sustainable and balancing the three kinds of sustainability just led to analytical and conceptual problems, in my view.
What do you think about using ecosystem services as a framework for forest planning?
Pros, cons, and watch-outs?