Creating and sustaining community capacity for ecosystem-based management: Is local government the key?

Creating and sustaining community capacity for ecosystem-based management: Is local government the key?

ARTICLE IN PRESS Journal of Environmental Management 88 (2008) 1396–1405 www.elsevier.com/locate/jenvman Creating and sustaining community capacity ...

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ARTICLE IN PRESS

Journal of Environmental Management 88 (2008) 1396–1405 www.elsevier.com/locate/jenvman

Creating and sustaining community capacity for ecosystem-based management: Is local government the key? William E. Fleeger, Mimi L. Becker Department of Natural Resources, College of Life Sciences and Agriculture, University of New Hampshire, 56 College Road, 215 James Hall, Durham, NH 03824-3589, USA Received 4 July 2006; received in revised form 25 June 2007; accepted 14 July 2007 Available online 30 August 2007

Abstract Recently, collaborative approaches to natural resource management have been widely promoted as ways to broaden participation and community involvement in furthering the goals of ecosystem management. The language of collaboration has even been incorporated into controversial legislation, such as the US Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003. This research examines collaboration and sharing management responsibility for federal public land with local communities through a case study of the Ashland Municipal Watershed in southern Oregon. A policy sciences approach is used to analyze community participation and institutional relationships between the US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, and local city government in the planning processes of five land management actions occurring over a 7-year period. The knowledge gained from examining differing approaches to planning and decision making in the Ashland watershed is used to suggest future planning processes to develop and sustain the community capacity necessary to support implementation of community-based ecosystem management. r 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. Keywords: Ecosystem management; Ecosystem-based management; Community-based management; Healthy Forests Restoration Act; Public lands

1. Introduction and problem orientation Recently, collaborative community-based approaches to natural resource management have been widely promoted as ways to broaden participation and build local community support and involvement in furthering the goals of ecosystem management. However, federal land management agencies have been slow to embrace collaborative approaches and are still primarily organized around a rational planning model, which emphasizes science and the role of government experts in planning and decision making (Lachapelle et al., 2003). The framework for involving the public provided in the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) remains the dominant method for considering the needs of local communities in planning and decision-making processes on federal public Corresponding author. Permanent address: 70 Church Street, Deerfield, NH 03037, USA. Tel./fax: +1 603 463 7899. E-mail addresses: wfl[email protected] (W.E. Fleeger), [email protected] (M.L. Becker).

0301-4797/$ - see front matter r 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2007.07.018

lands. NEPA’s focus on meeting procedural requirements has been criticized for promoting an adversarial context for planning that results in increased alienation, apathy, and mutual distrust between federal management agencies and citizens (Bergman and Kemmis, 2000). Researchers have documented an increased call for collaboration in natural resource management from across the political spectrum (Cortner and Moote, 1999). The language of community collaboration has even been incorporated into controversial legislation such as the Healthy Forests Restoration Act, 16 U.S.C. 6501 et seq. (hereinafter ‘‘HFRA’’). The stated purpose of HFRA is ‘‘to reduce wildfire risk to communities, municipal water supplies, and other at-risk federal land through a collaborative process of planning, prioritizing, and implementing hazardous fuel reduction projects’’ (16 U.S.C. 6501 y 1). The act also requires agencies to encourage ‘‘meaningful public participation during preparation of authorized hazardous fuel reduction projects’’ and ‘‘facilitate collaboration among state and local governments and Indian tribes, and participation of interested personsy’’

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(16 U.S.C. 6514 y 104 (f)). This directive for community collaboration raises numerous questions. The legislation fails to clarify what is meant by collaboration or specify that how it should occur. It also presumes that both the agencies and communities involved have the interest, capability, and resources to effectively participate in collaborative processes. The collective experience of many community-based natural resource management collaborations that have developed over the past 20 years suggests meaningful participation and collaboration is a far more complex and difficult process than is depicted in this legislative directive, particularly where management actions may challenge community values or where the scientific basis underlying management proposals are complex, uncertain, or contested. This research reports the opportunities and barriers to collaboration and sharing of management responsibility for federal public land with local communities through a case study of the Ashland Municipal Watershed in southern Oregon. The Ashland watershed serves as an excellent case study for three compelling reasons. First, with its geographic location in the Klamath/Siskiyou mountain range and its designation as a Late Successional Reserve, the watershed has important ecological value which is at significant risk for a high-intensity wildfire due to decades of fire suppression. Second, the US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service (USFS) has management responsibility for 96% of the land within the watershed and has a longstanding cooperative agreement to involve the City of Ashland in the management of the watershed. The city owns the remainder of the land and is also the leaseholder for the community-owned ski area located in the headwaters of the watershed. Finally, the community of Ashland has a relatively wealthy, educated, and involved citizenry with a history of both successful collaborative management efforts and bitter conflict over public lands. Specifically, this study examines community participation and institutional relationships between the USFS and local city government in the planning and decision-making processes of five land management actions addressing wildfire and recreational issues in the Ashland Municipal Watershed over the past 7 years. The names, purposes, and responsible agencies of the five projects are listed in Table 1. The situation of the Ashland watershed, where a federal agency is primarily responsible for managing resources necessary to sustain a local community, is common throughout the western United States. Understanding the barriers and possibilities for developing and maintaining effective, long-term, collaborative management relationships between federal agencies and local communities is important for successful implementation of ecosystembased management. The knowledge gained from a detailed examination of the various and differing approaches to planning and decision-making in the Ashland watershed can be used to suggest future alternate processes. The lessons learned here may also be used by other commu-

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Table 1 Ashland watershed projects Project

Purpose of project

Mt. Ashland Ski Area Expansion Project

Promote long-term economic viability of the community-owned ski area by upgrading facilities and expanding terrain to provide diverse recreation experiences and better accommodate beginning and intermediate skiers Ashland Increase trail opportunities Watershed and trailhead facilities and Trails Project mitigate resource damage occurring as the result of increased recreational use of the Ashland and adjacent watersheds Ashland Protect the municipal water Watershed supplies and late successional habitat by Protection Project treating wildfire fuels and manipulating vegetation on approximately 1500 acres in the Ashland watershed to reduce the threat of highintensity stand replacing wildfire Forest Lands Promote forest health and Restoration resilience and reduce the Project threat of high-intensity wildfire by thinning primarily lower and middle canopy trees on approximately 200 acres of city-owned land in the Ashland watershed Ashland Forest Reduce the threat of large Restoration scale high intensity wildfire Project and protect municipal water supplies and late successional habitat on more than 8000 acres in the Ashland watershed and surrounding area

Responsible agency Mt. Ashland Association (501, c3), Forest Service, and City of Ashland

Forest Service, City of Ashland

Forest Service

City of Ashland

Forest Service

nities struggling to build the community capacity to facilitate implementation of ecosystem management in cooperation with federal agency partners. 2. Materials and methods In order to understand, describe, and recommend policy approaches for the management of the Ashland watershed, the relevant books, articles, journals, government documents, city council minutes, and newspaper accounts leading up to the present day management situation in the Ashland watershed were collected and reviewed to develop a chronological analysis and management history of the watershed. Additional data were obtained through in-depth

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personal interviews conducted with key participants in social and decision-making processes relevant to the management of the watershed. Participants were selected based upon their involvement in one or more of the planning and management actions occurring in the watershed. All interviews were conducted during a site visit to the southern Oregon area in June and July 2004. A total of 20 individuals, representing nine stakeholder groups, participated in the five management projects. The personal interviews generally lasted between 1 and 2 h and were used to understand the strategies and formal and informal networks participants used to obtain information, solve problems, and influence management outcomes. Electronic interview transcripts were coded using the content analysis program, ATLAS.ti. Codes were assigned to categorize participant responses by each of the five management projects, as well as a sixth category for responses more generally associated with the watershed as a whole. These six categories were then each further divided into two subcategories of social or decision processes based upon the framework of the policy sciences described below.

3. Theoretical framework Data collected through the course of this research were ‘‘mapped’’ using a modified version of the policy sciences analytic framework first developed by Harold Laswell. The policy sciences approach has been successfully used by many notable researchers to take a comprehensive and integrative problem-solving approach to understanding complex natural resource management problems (Brunner and Steelman, 2005; Clark, 2002; Brewer and deLeon, 1983). As in the case of the Ashland watershed, decisions affecting the management of ecological systems are embedded in social and institutional arrangements that greatly influence, if not determine, the management outcome. The policy sciences provide a framework for

incorporating and integrating relevant social, institutional, political, and technical information to obtain a multidimensional view of the problem (Fig. 1). This allows policy alternatives to be designed to more effectively address complex natural resource problems in their specific social and institutional context. The policy sciences analytic framework is applied by categorizing research information into three primary areas: problem orientation, social processes, and decision processes. Problem orientation involves collecting and analyzing research information to determine the spatial and temporal boundaries of the problem and the nature of the threats posed to the ecological system. The process of problem orientation seeks to provide a ‘‘contextual map’’ of the problem by clarifying management goals, describing relevant trends, analyzing existing conditions, projecting future developments, and inventing, evaluating, and suggesting alternatives. Social processes are the key elements which shape peoples’ motivations and influence their behaviors in the policy process. These include the perspectives, values, and strategies that guide participants’ behavior in the policy process. The outcomes and effects of participant behaviors are also important components of social processes, which provide an understanding of how people interact to achieve their social and ecological goals. Decision processes include those functions which collectively lead to the creation and implementation of public policy, including the types and sources of information that are collected and used to promote and develop specific policy actions (intelligence, promotion, and prescription). Decision processes also include the functions of how decisions are made (invocation), applied (application), monitored (appraisal), and adapted (termination) to incorporate new information or changing circumstances (Clark, 2002). Using these three discrete yet intertwined components of the policy sciences—problem orientation, social processes, and decision functions—allows research information to be integrated and analyzed to determine the

Fig. 1. Illustration of the three dimensions of the natural resource management and policy process. Interdisciplinary problem solving incorporates problem orientation, context or social process mapping, and decision process analysis. Source: modified with permission from Clark (2002, p. 176).

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overall effectiveness of the policy process and suggest areas where changes or improvements can be made. The results of this analysis using the policy sciences framework are presented in this article in the following three ways. First, the initial steps in the process of problem orientation, clarifying management goals, describing trends and analyzing existing conditions, are briefly described in Section 1. The remaining components of problem orientation; projecting future developments and developing and analyzing alternatives are conducted in Section 5. The discussion section also references the seven decision functions of the policy sciences framework to suggest alternatives for effective USFS and community collaboration in the management of the Ashland watershed. Second, an analysis of the important social and decision process factors influencing the management of the Ashland watershed is presented in Section 4. This analysis focuses on community involvement and participation in planning actions for the Ashland watershed and the institutional relationships and collaboration between the USFS and the City of Ashland necessary for formalizing and implementing management actions in the watershed. Finally, Section 6, integrates the findings of the social and decision process analysis and problem orientation to draw conclusions and make recommendations on ways to develop a more comprehensive and rational approach to planning and management at the local level and create and sustain community capacity for ecosystem-based management. 4. Social and decision process analysis This section uses the policy sciences framework to provide an integrated analysis of the social and decision processes used in the development of the five recent planning and management actions in the Ashland watershed. The results of this analysis are used suggest alternatives for effective collaboration between the USFS and the City of Ashland and are discussed in Section 5. 4.1. Models of community involvement In general, three different models of community involvement were used in the most recent planning projects for the Ashland watershed: (1) a traditional NEPA-based approach; (2) a competing alternative model; and (3) an open and iterative planning process. The first type, described as a traditional NEPA-based approach, was characterized by formalized and strictly defined public involvement processes and ‘‘top down’’ decision-making based on scientific rationale and expert analysis. The traditional NEPA approach was most closely followed in the case of the Mt. Ashland Ski Area Expansion Project, in which public involvement was voluminous but accepted only at predetermined points in the planning and decision-making process. Public comment was limited to responding to proponent and agency-designed alternatives and was generally confined to formal processes, such as public

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meetings and required public comment periods. Some participants in this research believed this traditional NEPA approach was the most appropriate because of the complex environmental issues and the design and engineering requirement associated with ski area development. Others deemed that the contested nature of the project precluded more open and collaborative approaches. Most participants in this study felt that the public comment and participation in the Mt. Ashland Ski Area Expansion Project resulted in considerable modifications and improvements being made to the proposal. An example was the modifications made to ski runs to minimize impacts to wetlands and a unique grove of Engleman Spruce (USDA, 2004). However, no participant in this research reported that the public involvement process was effective at finding common ground or producing more community support and acceptance for the expansion proposal. In fact, many participants felt that the extended length of the environmental review process (over 6 years) and the ongoing ‘‘grenade lobbing’’ that went on in the local media between supporters and opponents further exacerbated conflict and polarization in the community. The second type of community involvement, the competing alternative model, was used by the USFS in both the Ashland Watershed Protection Project and the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project. The competing alternative model was different from the traditional NEPA model in that it provided the opportunity for a communitydesigned alternative to be considered on an equal basis with agency alternatives as part of the planning process. Planning and decision-making processes were still highly formalized with a clear separation between agency and community actions. However, the competing alternative model tended to be less adversarial than the traditional NEPA approach, and there was a greater level of informal communication and sharing of information and resources between agency personnel and community stakeholders. Agency decision making was also less deterministic and more accommodating of social concerns and community interests. For example, in the Ashland Watershed Protection Project, the USFS encouraged community members to develop an alternative proposal as a way to diffuse public controversy surrounding the actions proposed by the Forest Service (Ashland Watershed Stewardship Alliance, 1999). The USFS district ranger sometimes attended community meetings and had frequent informal conversations with community members working on developing a community alternative. The agency specifically deferred to community values and chose to implement a modified version of the community alternative over its own proposed action (USDA, 2001). However, it is important to note that this deferral to the community alternative may have resulted in internal resistance within the agency, as the project was slow to be implemented and was not well supported by USFS personnel. In the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project, the opportunity for a community alternative was provided for by HFRA and was also

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encouraged by local USFS leadership. Although the time frame and planning process were formally prescribed by the agency, the USFS granted the city additional time and shared information and data, which assisted the city in developing an alternative proposal (City of Ashland, 2004). The third type of community involvement was used by the USFS and the city in the Ashland Watershed Trails Project; by the City of Ashland Forest Lands Commission in phase II of the Forest Lands Restoration Project and the Ashland Forest Resiliency Community Alternative; and by the Ashland Watershed Stewardship Alliance in the development of a community response to the Ashland Watershed Protection Project. These projects used an open and iterative planning process whereby agency personnel or management professionals participated on an equal basis with community stakeholders in a planning process organized around solving a mutually defined and agreed upon problem. This open and iterative planning process involved group learning and conflict resolution and incorporated expert input and community involvement throughout all stages of the planning process. Alternatives and proposals for action were evaluated according to both social and ecological criteria, and decisions were most often made by some form of consensus. In each of these projects, achieving an appropriate management solution and obtaining a high level of community support and involvement were specifically identified as important goals, and planning processes were structured to achieve both of those objectives. In general, of the three types of community involvement approaches used in the recent projects proposed in the Ashland watershed (Fig. 2), those projects that incorporated an open and iterative process were most effective in building community support for proposed management

actions. The least effective at cultivating community support was the traditional NEPA-based approached used in the case of the Mt. Ashland Ski Area Expansion Project. All participants in this research reported that this project was very divisive, and one participant described it as being ‘‘very successful in tearing the community apart’’ (Forest Service employee, personal communication, June 25, 2004). While the competing alternative model used by the Forest Service in the Ashland Watershed Protection Project and Ashland Forest Resiliency Project was successful at building community support for management actions in the Ashland watershed, it was less successful in building trust and understanding between the USFS and the community. Because the agency did not participate in the process, there was not opportunity to develop the personal relationships and trust that help break down stereotypes and barriers between agency employees and community members. Also, in the absence of agency participation, community-designed alternatives can fail to take into consideration agency concerns and issues (e.g., legal requirements, funding, and personnel), which can lead to unrealistic expectations or problems and delays in project implementation. Overall, participants in this research reported a high level of mistrust of the USFS in the community, which was exacerbated by the agency’s tendency to rely on more formalized community involvement processes, such a traditional NEPA approach, with large public meetings and comment periods, or a competing alternative approach, by which the community was allowed to submit an alternative for consideration as part of the NEPA process. In contrast, participants reported that the city enjoyed a high level of trust and credibility in the community. Much of this perception was precisely due to the city’s willingness ‘‘to go overboard’’ in making its planning processes

Fig. 2. The three types of community involvement used in the planning projects for the Ashland watershed.

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inviting of the public and its decision-making processes open and transparent. A forest worker involved in projects with both the Forest Service and the city commented on how the community perceived both entities: The city sought to go above and beyond to involve the public with a lot of tours and a really open processy With the Forest Service, you kind of get lost in the bureaucracyy I think the citizens of Ashland trust the city, it’s already kind of inherent; they support the city and they like the fire chief. With the Forest Service, because there is turnover and historic problems, that trust has never been established; they have really never established credibility. (Personal communication, June 16, 2004) A City of Ashland employee also commented on community mistrust of the USFS and how the city’s planning process differed: Lack of trust, I guess, is probably the big thingy maybe because we can operate on such a small scale and have an entity that represents diverse interests in the community, as well as scientific interests and knowledgey and is completely transparent to the public. Anybody can sit in on any Forest Lands Commission meeting, and those meetings are where the planning takes placey. There just isn’t that opportunity to go to the Forest Service office and sit in on a technical discussion about [tree] diameters or basal area or whatever. With the city process, I think people from the community can feel the ownership of being a part of that process and feel like their input is valuable. (Personal communication, June 14, 2004) 4.2. Institutional relationships: collaboration and the role of city government Many participants in this research referenced the 1929 cooperative agreement with the USFS and the more recent 1996 memorandum of understanding (MOU) as providing the basis for the city’s involvement in the management of the Ashland watershed. The MOU stated that the Forest Service shall ‘‘include the city in planning level and project level, where appropriate for projects in the Ashland watershed’’ and also states that the city shall provide ‘‘input into the resource management process for planning, management review, and evaluation [of] any resource activity with the Ashland watershed’’ (USDA and City of Ashland, 1996). However, the MOU lacked specific description of the process by which this involvement and input should occur, and, as a result, there were differing interpretations regarding the implications of the MOU and the 1929 agreement. For example, one city employee felt that these documents ‘‘say we will jointly manage the watershed’’ (personal communication, June 10, 2004). However, another city employee interpreted the purpose very narrowly and reported that the MOU only ‘‘allows for

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consultation’’ (personal communication, June 23, 2004). Given this lack of clarity and divergence of perspectives, the relationship and interactions between the USFS and the city have been different for each of the projects examined within this research. The cooperative agreement and MOU appear to have been less important than other factors, including citizen advocacy and the strategies of public and community involvement used by individuals charged with leadership of the project. For example, in the Mt. Ashland Ski Area Expansion Project and the Ashland Watershed Protection Project, city leaders were initially content to defer to the USFS and neither requested special consideration nor gave special input into the planning and decision-making process. However, after extended periods of controversy and citizen pressure, the city was essentially forced to provide formal, but ultimately very weak, input into the management process. In contrast, in the Ashland Watershed Trails Project, the city and the USFS proceeded as equal partners in planning and involving the community in redesigning the watershed trail system. The USFS recreation planner and his counterpart in the Ashland Parks and Recreation Department recognized that collaboration and cooperation were necessary to be responsive to public concerns and adequately address trail and resource issues across Forest Service, city, and private lands. In this instance, the formal obligations of the cooperative agreement and MOU were much less important than working relationships and management philosophies of leaders involved in the project. In the case of the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project, the specific framework of the Community Wildfire Protection Plan provided for in HFRA effectively superseded the cooperative agreement and MOU, allowing the city to propose a management alternative for federal lands in the Ashland watershed. This greatly expanded the role of the city in the management of the watershed and, in doing so, has likely set a precedent for the future relationship between the USFS and the city. Another important factor influencing the city’s involvement in the management of federal lands in the watershed was a widely perceived decrease in the ability of the USFS to effectively manage the lands under its jurisdiction due to a lack of personnel and management resources. Some participants expressed concern that USFS resources were stretched too thin and it lacked the personnel and resources to adequately manage the watershed: ‘‘yTheir office is a ghost town. You could walk in there for half a day and not find anyone. It’s not the local folks fault; they are victim to a larger issue of revenue stream reduction’’ (City of Ashland employee, personal communication, June 10, 2004). Another city official involved in reviewing the ski area proposal echoed this concern, stating that ‘‘their staff isn’t always there and they are drawn in so many different directions’’ (personal communication, June 23, 2004). The concern about the lack of personnel was shared by employees of the Forest Service. Several USFS employees

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interviewed for this research expressed frustration with the constant agency cutbacks and an increasing administrative workload. One employee commented that the USFS as an organization ‘‘is losing touch with the ground’’ and that the employees that were left were being pulled in many different directions, spending more time ‘‘making certain that we have the correct paperwork and little time actually managing the land’’ (personal communication, June 23, 2004). Overall, the role of the city in the planning of USFS projects increased over the time period examined in this research. Much of this change has been driven by citizen pressure on city government to exert more influence in accordance with the intent of the 1929 cooperative agreement and 1996 MOU. This, coupled with declining USFS resources and the opportunity for a communitydesigned alternative provided by HFRA, has motivated the city to take a stronger role in influencing the management direction of the Ashland watershed. According to one city employee: The city has kind of been drug into it a little bit by the Forest Service, a little bit by the environmental groups, until there was finally a self-awareness and realization that we needed to be involved, and now we are kind of self-motivated to do thaty Initially the city government was hesitant to jump in the middle of a briar patch. But it soon became obvious to all of us that it was the appropriate thing to do and we needed to get involved. We thought we could help and I think we have. (Personal communication, June 10, 2004) 5. Discussion Both the City of Ashland and the USFS play important roles in the management of the Ashland watershed with each entity having shared responsibilities and overlapping interests. Lacking specific methods for collaboration, the relationship between the USFS and the city has been managed on an ad hoc basis, producing mixed results and creating confusion, if not frustration, for city leaders, Forest Service officials, and citizens. By most accounts, there is a need to define and clarify the decision processes by which the collaboration and cooperation intended in the longstanding formal agreements between the USFS and the city occur. This is important not only to improve the management of the watershed, but also to be responsive to increased citizen interest and participation by providing transparency and accountability in fulfilling the responsibilities obligated by the agreements between the two entities. One USFS employee described the problem of sharing management responsibility between the Forest Service and the city this way: ‘‘I would say our jurisdictions are so different, the things that we are required to do, the laws, policies, and methods of business, are just so very different. I mean their whole council process and our whole

environmental analysis process—it is just really different’’ (personal communication, June 18, 2004). By law, the decision-making authority (invocation) for federal land cannot be delegated, nor would the city defer decision authority on lands under its jurisdiction to the USFS. However, the formal inclusion of each entity in the planning process (intelligence, promotion, and prescription) of the other could improve collaboration and provide a process to fulfill the intent of the 1929 cooperative agreement and 1996 MOU. Many participants suggested that the method adopted during the development of the community alternative to the Ashland Forest Resiliency Project, of using the Ashland Forest Lands Commission as the liaison between the city and the USFS, held some promise for providing an effective bridge between these different organizations and processes. The Ashland Forest Lands Commission is a seven-member citizen advisory commission appointed by the mayor, and commission members typically have substantial experience and backgrounds in natural resource planning and management. According to one USFS employee: The [Ashland Forest] Lands Commission is about the best thing we have experienced in working with the city in developing a common solution to something. It actually frees [us] from the politics and we get into the actual practicality of managing land. The Lands Commission has people that work in this field and understand ity and that has been a huge improvement for us. (Personal communication, June 18, 2004) In contrast to the perceived community mistrust of the USFS, participants reported that the Ashland Forest Lands Commission enjoyed widespread community support and credibility. This included being more effective and efficient in its use of resources, such as leveraging professional expertise and community volunteers, obtaining grant funding, conducting public outreach and education, and sustaining a commitment to biological monitoring. Additionally, many participants in the study perceived the planning and NEPA processes used by the USFS to be highly formalized and inaccessible to the public; whereas participants generally believed the city’s planning process to be more open, transparent, inviting of public input, and responsive to community issues. For example, in order to address citizen concerns about large tree removal during the Forest Lands Restoration Project, each tree larger than 17 inches in diameter designated for removal was assigned and marked with a number, and the rationale for cutting that tree was documented (City of Ashland, 2003). Although such trees composed only a small portion of the total trees removed, this action reflected the responsiveness and transparency in decision making that characterized the Ashland Forest Lands Commission’s process. Beyond utilizing the Ashland Forest Lands Commission as a liaison between the USFS and the city, many participants in this research reported that management of

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the watershed could be improved if there was more genuine collaboration between the Forest Service and the city in the planning and decision-making process. In both the Mt. Ashland Ski Area Expansion Project and the Ashland Watershed Protection Project, the city submitted formal comments considered on par with other comments received as part of the federal NEPA process. In the Ashland Forest Restoration Project, the city was allowed to submit an alternative for the management of federal lands in the watershed under the provisions provided by HFRA. Yet, it remains unclear as to whether the city will have any role or involvement in the analysis, selection, and implementation of an alternative beyond formal comment submitted to the USFS during the development of a draft or final Environmental Impact Statement. For the city’s part, the 1992 charter establishing the Ashland Forest Lands Commission provides for ex-officio membership of a USFS representative from the Ashland Ranger District. However, in the recollection of the participants interviewed in this research, that position on the commission has never been filled. In addition to collaborating with the city in planning, many participants in this study stated that it was even more critically important for the city to have influence and involvement in project implementation, monitoring, and adaptive management (application appraisal and termination) in the watershed. Given the declining resources of the USFS, most participants expressed very low confidence in the agency’s ability and commitment to adequately implement, supervise, and monitor projects in the watershed over time. Therefore, most participants believed the only realistic way to ensure that plans for the watershed were properly implemented was for the city to assume more management responsibility. However, not all participants felt comfortable with the city assuming greater management role. A former city council member stated that while it was important to weigh in on managing wildfire on federal lands, the city lacked sufficient personnel to engage in hands-on management or the expertise to be involved in other management areas, such as the expansion of the Mt. Ashland Ski Area (personal communication, June 18, 2004). Likewise, one USFS employee expressed that ‘‘the city isn’t willing and rightly shouldn’t step over the line and do our job for us’’ (personal interview, June 18, 2004). Yet, the city has demonstrated competency in planning and administering projects on its own land and in maintaining a commitment to biological monitoring that far exceeds USFS standards. Also, many participants felt this would be a logical extension of the work already done in the development of the community alternative to the Ashland Forest Restoration Project. If the community alternative is chosen, in whole or in part, as the management action to be taken in the watershed, it is likely that city leaders and interested citizens would expect some involvement and accountability for implementation and monitoring of the project. Therefore, establishing some form of cooperative arrangement between the USFS and the city for overseeing

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project implementation, monitoring, and adaptive management in the watershed is a reasonable step. This might include creating a monitoring subcommittee of the Ashland Forest Land Commission to include representatives of the USFS and city, as well as interested citizens and community expertise. Improving the collaboration, communication, and formal relationships between the USFS and the city by itself cannot achieve the level of coordinated and integrated management necessary to improve conditions in the watershed. In the absence of a specifically defined and explicitly agreed upon vision for the watershed, both the city and the USFS have adopted a project-by-project approach to planning and management that, for the most part, has been biologically and socially fragmented. For example, environmental groups opposed to the ski area expansion argued that the proposal only benefited a small elite user group, while the potential for increased sedimentation resulting from the expansion threatened the city’s water supply. Meanwhile, the expansion of the Ashland watershed trail system, which also benefited a small and elite user group (primarily mountain bikers), contributed substantial sedimentation into the watershed and has required extensive and costly mitigation measures. Furthermore, the primary source of sedimentation threatening the city’s water supply remains the network of road systems, many of which provide linkages to the trail system and are now used primarily for recreation (USDA, 2003). This fragmented approach to planning contributes to a sense of ‘‘apples and oranges,’’ whereby the potential sedimentation caused by the ski area expansion is considered in isolation from other social uses and sources of sedimentation in the watershed. While there are intrinsic differences in the size, scope, and impact between the two projects, there are also numerous biological and social similarities. An integrated approach to the management of all sediment sources and recreational uses in the watershed would allow such connections to be made, with the potential for mitigation in one area to offset impacts in another. Developing an ecosystem management plan for the Ashland watershed was a key recommendation of the city’s 1992 Forest Plan, upon which the charter for the Ashland Forest Lands Commission is based (McCormick and Associates, 1992). Although the commission has actively addressed other issues identified in the plan, including trail management and wildfire fuel reduction, steps towards developing an ecosystem-based management plan for the watershed have never been taken. In total, this research suggests the possibility for improving the cross-jurisdictional management of the watershed through the development of a more reciprocal relationship between the Forest Service and the city, by which each entity has a formally defined role within the planning processes of the other. The Venn diagram in Fig. 3 depicts the recommended planning process that includes shared responsibility between the Forest Service and the city and is inclusive of interested citizens.

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Fig. 3. Venn diagram depicting the recommended planning process to share planning responsibility between the Forest Service, the city, and citizens.

6. Conclusions and recommendations This case study and comparison of five land management actions occurring in the Ashland watershed of southern Oregon revealed a fragmented and ad hoc approach to planning and management. Despite longstanding formal agreements to cooperate in the management of the watershed, the relationship between USFS and the City of Ashland has been more strongly influenced by public controversy, citizen involvement, individual project leadership, and recent national legislation than by a common vision for the health and future of the watershed. This has resulted in a project-by-project approach to planning and management that has sometimes produced frustration and confusion for USFS officials, city leaders, and citizens. Participants in this research reported a high level of mistrust of the USFS in part due to past management actions as well as a perceived lack of personnel and resources needed to properly manage the watershed. Also, community mistrust of the USFS is exacerbated by its tendency to rely on more formalized community involvement processes, such a traditional NEPA-based approach or competing alternative model. In contrast, participants in this research reported that the city enjoyed a high level of trust and credibility in the community. Much of this was precisely due to the city’s willingness ‘‘to go overboard’’ by utilizing open and iterative planning processes that were comparatively transparent and inviting of the public. In recent years, there has been increasing pressure from citizens as well as city leaders for the city to exert greater influence over the management of the entire watershed. Subsequently in the time frame covered in this research, the role of the city has changed from very passive support for USFS management of the watershed to actively leading a community effort to develop an alternative management proposal for federal lands in the watershed under the provisions of HFRA. This change in the city’s role sets a precedent for the future relationship between the Forest Service and the city and provides a unique opportunity to restructure the relationship and responsibilities to improve the management of the watershed. This case study of the Ashland watershed revels the opportunities to employ the structures of local governance,

in this case a city appointed commission, to facilitate community participation, collaboration, and cross-jurisdictional management arrangements between federal and local agencies. When, as in the case of the Ashland watershed, local government agencies possess significant technical expertise, have developed effective mechanisms for community participation, and enjoy substantial community support, federal land management agencies would be wise to utilize structures of local governance to gain community support and acceptance for management proposals. Developing formalized relationship with entities of local government allows federal agencies to capitalize on established local processes for facilitating public involvement, consensus building and community decision making. Such relationships provide local government with greater influence in ensuring protection of important community values and resources and facilitate coordinated and cooperative cross-jurisdiction management arrangements. The threats of increasing urbanization, growing recreational use, and high intensity fire demand a more integrated and collaborative approach to protect and maintain both the biological and social values. There is growing recognition of the promise of community-based collaboration and the importance of cultivating community knowledge and resources in support of strategies of ecosystem-based management. Broad stakeholder participation and coordinated and integrated planning across land management boundaries and at the watershed scale are critical to implementing an ecosystem-based approach. By using the structures of local governance, communities can take important steps towards revitalizing and renewing cooperative and collaborative relationships with federal land management agencies to improve the management of local watersheds. Acknowledgments We would like to thank the University of New Hampshire Department of Natural Resources and those individuals who shared their time and insight by participating in this research. References Ashland Watershed Stewardship Alliance, 1999. Draft Comment and Proposal in Response to the Ashland Watershed Protection Project. Ashland Watershed Stewardship Alliance, Ashland, OR. Bergman, H., Kemmis, D., 2000. Introduction. in: Reclaiming NEPA’s potential: can collaborative process improve environmental decision making? In: Report on a Workshop on the National Environmental Policy Act, pp. 3–5. Cosponsored by O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana and Institute for Environment and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming. Brewer, G.D., deLeon, P., 1983. The Foundation of Policy Analysis. Dorsey Press, Homewood, IL. Brunner, R.D., Steelman, T.A., 2005. Beyond Scientific Management, in: Adaptive Governance: Integrating Science, Policy and Decision Making. Columbia University Press, New York.

ARTICLE IN PRESS W.E. Fleeger, M.L. Becker / Journal of Environmental Management 88 (2008) 1396–1405 City of Ashland, 2003. City Forest Lands Restoration Project: Phase II. Ashland Forest Lands Commission. City of Ashland, 2004. Community Wildfire Protection Plan: living with fire in Ashland. City of Ashland, Public Works. Clark, T.W., 2002. The Policy Process: A Practical Guide for Natural Resource Professionals. Yale University Press, New Haven. Cortner, H.J., Moote, M.A., 1999. The Politics of Ecosystem Management. Island Press, Washington, DC. Lachapelle, P.R., McCool, S.F., Patterson, M.E., 2003. Barriers to effective natural resource planning in a ‘‘messy’’ world. Society and Natural Resources 16 (6), 473–490.

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McCormick, R.J. and Associates, 1992. Ashland Forest Plan. City of Ashland, OR. USDA Forest Service, 2001. Final Environmental Impact Statement: Ashland Watershed Protection Project. Rogue River National Forest, Ashland Ranger District. USDA Forest Service, 2003. Upper Bear Assessment. Rogue River National Forest. USDA Forest Service, 2004. Final Environmental Impact Statement: Mt. Ashland Ski Area Expansion. Rogue River National Forest. USDA Forest Service and City of Ashland, 1996. Memorandum of Understanding. Rogue River National Forest, Ashland Ranger District.