Looking Back to Move Forward: Collaborative Planning to Revise the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests Land and Resource Management Plans
The United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service (Forest Service) manages 154 national forests and 20 grasslands in 44 states and Puerto Rico. National Forest Land and Resource Management Plans (forest plans) form the basis for land and resource management of national forests in the United States. For more than a decade the Forest Service has been attempting to incorporate innovative, collaborative public involvement strategies into the process for revising forest plans. In 2012 and 2015 the Forest Service codified new regulations for developing, revising, and amending forest plans. Collaboration and public involvement are explicit goals of the new regulations. This paper briefly reviews the literature on collaborative planning on national forests and explores a successful collaborative planning process used by the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests, located in Vermont and New York respectively, to develop their 2006 forest plans. This paper shows how the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests developed parallel public and internal collaborative processes to build trust, relationships, and partnership, and discusses the implications for process design, capacity building, and facilitating agreements. By looking back at this successful case of collaborative forest planning, key lessons can provide ideas for developing collaborative processes for future planning efforts.
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