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Navigating social forestry – A street-level perspective on National Forest management in the US Pacific Northwest

Maier, Carolin, Abrams, Jesse B.
Land use policy 2018 v.70 pp. 432-441
collaborative management, forest policy, forests, governance, interviews, national forests, planning, social forestry, stakeholders, timber production, Oregon
US forest policy changed dramatically during the 1990s and fundamentally altered National Forest management in the Pacific Northwest. Via the Northwest Forest Plan, the previous emphasis on timber production was replaced with a broader set of objectives and collaborative management approaches became increasingly important. Yet the legacies of past institutions, such as those related to budget structures and planning processes, continue to weigh on contemporary dynamics of policy implementation in the current ‘social forestry’ regime. The convoluted nature of the current forest governance system’s emergence raises the question of how it affects policy implementation at the local level. We rely on 35 qualitative interviews with various actors involved in public forest management on the Siuslaw and Willamette National Forests in Oregon to understand how multiple and contradictory policies, combined with local stakeholder involvement, influence management decisions. We find that forest management takes place in a vetocratic and neoliberal institutional setting: the implementation of projects is contingent upon getting past numerous veto players who, at the same time, increasingly take on tasks formerly assigned to government entities