One of the reasons we started this blog was to increase the net discussions between law school folks and practitioners of planning and NEPA. This is a video recorded in October 2007. The main voices are Fred Norbury, Professors Fred Cheever of the University of Denver Law School and Mark Squillace of University of Colorado Boulder Natural Resources Law Program. Rick Cables, the Regional Forester at the time, weighs in with his experiences and I pop in from time to time (sounding much less articulate than the rest of them).
Cheever starts asking questions first, and then Squillace. You can see Fred Norbury on the video and the only other FS players chiming in were Rick and me (who do not sound alike).
Here’s a link to the video.
Fred starts in with his talk at about 3:40; at about 21:00 are some of the ideas about collaboration. An interesting discussion about how 82 plans had requirements.. some of which were fulfilled and important (standards); others not fulfilled (outputs)around 51:00. it’s fascinating to me as to how it’s important for some things to be “binding” and others not so much; which is still echoed today in the O&C debate.
Because these folks have a policy agenda, of course. Which is OK, as my friend “Eeyore of the Forest Service” says with a sigh..”it’s not good, it’s not bad, it just is.” But it seems to be a very different approach than if you rounded up a group of professors at CSU or OSU or NAU..but if you disagree, please comment.
There is a discussion about the divisiveness of traditional alternatives (related to today’s discussion of collaboration) around 56.
An issue to Professor Squillace was the EIS on the rule (yes, a judge required the FS to write an EIS on implementing different planning processes- as if they would result in different outcomes in a way that could be “meaningfully evaluated” (that’s NEPA, not me). But Fred Norbury says that logically, one could find that planning itself had no impacts on the environment because most of what was planned never happened (that’s right at the end of the video). There is a fundamental difference it seems to me between the language of Ohio Forestry and doing an EIS on a planning regulation.. if plans do not have effects then planning to plan probably doesn’t have an effect. But that’s just me.
So given that so many years have passed; Fred Rick and I are all retired; the 2005 Rule has gone to planning rule heaven; and I am looking at this in a more reflective way.
Here are my thoughts and I welcome discussion.
1) FS workers have traditionally come from natural resource and other schools, hence there is a natural conversation that happens and it seems like that leads to a feeling that “our graduates are generally attempting to do something right and know more than we do about actually doing it.” They tend to have mid-career training where “world as practiced” meets “academic world.” which if structured right, leads to fertile discussions.
2. I have noticed that many fewer FS employees come from law schools. So the trust/competence level must not be there. I don’t think someone from CSU would assume that folks in the FS hadn’t been working with community planners; or that they could think up better ideas about how to plan than people who work with planning every day. It’s almost like “we know more than you do about what you do because of our perspective.” But they are very nice people.. so I think it might be a legal culture thing.
3. These professors and students seem to feel like it’s their job to protect forests from abuse; not to illuminate what the trade-offs are, as say scientists are supposed to (at least when I was trained). My observation is that they tend to see things more politically (good guys vs. bad guys) than I remember in natural resource schools.
One more story.. we were having another discussion with Squillace and students and one of the students said that he thought each plan should start from scratch, and then only add uses as they made their case. I pointed out that that might not be satisfactory to people and their lawyers at say, Vail and Aspen. He said something like “but I go skiing!”. I think it is a good idea for discussions to happen across the academic/practitioner divide. Because the divide can be wide.
Let me know if you have problems.. this is the first one I’ve ever uploaded.