Literature List


Here’s a quick list of some good, though limited, literature on NFMA and planning from a policy-law perspective. There is more out there of course, so be sure to send along additional recommended readings and we’ll make the list more comprehensive. But this is a good start…
You can simply use the comment feature here and add your suggestions.. from time to time we will add them to the document. Please send links to where they can be found on the internet, if possible.

Charles F. Wilkinson and H. Michael Anderson, Land and Resource Planning in the National Forests (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 1987) (the most comprehensive history and assessment, still highly relevant).

“But if the NFMA stands for anything it is that the mystique is gone from federal timber law. The courts have been called in to measure agency performance against new statutory provisions of considerable specificity—and that basic fact of principled judicial oversight and enforcement has had, and will continue to have, a pronounced influence on the nature of Forest Service decisionmaking.” P. 75.
Michael C. Blumm and Sherry L. Bosse, Norton v. SUWA and the Unraveling of Federal Public Land Planning, 18 DUKE ENVTL. LAW & POLICY Y FORUM 105 (2007) (reviewing SUWA’s effect on litigation in the federal courts).

Richard W. Behan, “The RPA/NFMA: Solution to a Nonexistent Problem,” 88 Journal of Forestry 20 (May 1990) (always provocative, and his argument is even more relevant today in light of all the place-based legislation being proposed).

Dennis C. LeMaster, 2005 Final Rule and the Process Predicament (USFS)
Pamela Baldwin, Analysis and Critique of the Forest Service Planning Regulations Proposed on December 6, 2002 (Congressional Research Service, 2003).

Federico Cheever, “Four Failed Forest Standards: What We Can Learn from the History of the National Forest Management Act’s Substantive Timber Management Provisions,” 77 Oregon Law Review 601, 705 (1998)

Society for Conservation Biology, Committee on National Forest Planning and Management, Comments on Proposed Changes to the National Forest System Land and Resources Management Planning Rule (no date provided).

Flournoy, A., Glicksman, R.L., and Clune, M. (2005). Regulations in name only: How the Bush Administration’s National Forest Planning Rule Frees the Forest Service from Mandatory Standards and Public Accountability. (A Center for Progressive Reform White Paper, No. 508)

Nathaniel Lawrence, “A Forest of Objections: The Effort to Drop NEPA Review for National Forest Management Act Plans,” Environmental Law Reporter 39 (2009): 10651.
Charles F. Wilkinson, “The National Forest Management Act: The Twenty Years Behind, The Twenty Years Ahead,” 68 University of Colorado Law Review 677 (1997)
“Congress intended that NFMA planning would have exactly the same effect as local land-use planning—the plans would be binding on future agency actions and enforceable in court—and it is in the enlightened self-interest of the [USFS] not only to accept that fact, but to advocate it.” P. 675 (1997).
Jack Tuholske and Beth Brennan, “The National Forest Management Act: Judicial Interpretation of a Substantive Environmental Statute,” 15 Public Land Law Review 53 (1994)’s+diversity…-a019704896
Robert Glicksman, “Bridging Data Gaps Through Modeling and Evaluation of Surrogates: Use of Best Available Science to Protect Biological Diversity Under the National Forest Management Act,” 83 Indiana Law Journal 465 (2008)
Robert B. Keiter, “Public Lands and Law Reform: Putting Theory, Policy, and Practice in Perspective,” Utah Law Review, 2005, no. 3 (2005): 1127-1226.

Nie, Martin. “Governing the Tongass: National Forest Conflict & Political Decision Making,” Environmental Law 36, no. 2 (2006): 385-480 (examining the most pathological for its diagnostic value)

Nie, M. “The 2005 National Forest System Land and Resource Management Planning Regulations: Comments and Analysis.” Public Land & Resources Law Review 27 (2006): 99-106.

Bradley C. Karkkainen, “Toward a Smarter NEPA: Monitoring and Managing Government’s Environmental Performance,” 102 Columbia Law Review 903, 908 (2002) (proposing a smarter-yet-streamlined NEPA by using more monitoring and adjustments rather than mere ex-ante predictions).
“NEPA ambitiously, and naively, demands the impossible: comprehensive, synoptic rationality, in the form of an exhaustive, one-shot set of ex-ante predictions of expected environmental impacts.” P. 906.
Roger A. Sedjo, “Mission Impossible,” 97 Journal of Forestry (May 1999), 6, 13-14 (see this issue for more perspectives on the Committee’s Report).

George Hoberg, “Science, Politics, and U.S. Forest Service Law: The Battle over the Forest Service Planning Rule,” 44 Natural Resources Journal 1, 24 (2004) (another critical take on the 2000 planning regulations and COS)

Anna M. Seidman and Douglas S. Burdin, “Forest Wildlife Management: A Legal Battleground for a Scientific Dilemma,” 20(2) Natural Resources & Environment 40 (2005).

Holly Doremus, “Adaptive Management, the Endangered Species Act, and the Institutional Challenges of ‘New Age’ Environmental Protection,” 41 Washburn Law Journal 50 (2001) (she has written all sorts of neat stuff on how adaptive management can possibly work in a planning process; with this piece focused on the possibility of using pre-negotiated commitments in an adaptive management/monitoring framework).

Review of the New NFMA Planning Regulations (WildLaw White Paper, 2005).

Barry R. Noon, et al., “Conservation Science, Biodiversity, and the 2005 U.S. Forest Service Regulations,” 19(5) Conservation Biology 1359 (2005).

George Cameron Coggins, The Developing Law of Land Use Planning on the Federal Lands, 61 U. COLO. L. REV. (1999), 307, 309. “[T]he greater danger is that the agency will promulgate plans so general as to be meaningless as limitations on or guidelines for subsequent management decisions.”

Ray Vaughn, A Modest Proposal for the U.S. Forest Service (Short Version), A White Paper published in Management by Exclusion: The Forest Service Use of Categorical Exclusions from NEPA: Oversight Hearing Before House Comm. on Natural Resources (110th Cong.), 86 (“The seemingly endless days of conflict and trench warfare among competing concerns wear down parties while the needs of the forests are sidelined”).


  1. Here are some more references I would include:

    Michael J. Gippert & Vincent L. DeWitt, The Nature of Land and Resource Management Planning Under the National Forest Management Act, 3 THE ENVTL. LAW. 149 (1996)

    Mike Gippert and Vince DeWitt were on the USDA Office of General Counsel staff in Washington, and they developed the concept of “two levels of planning” – the Forest Plan and project planning. Originally, when NFMA was passed, a Forest Plan was thought of as essentially as one forestwide timber sale. Even Senator Humphrey during the floor debate on the bill told a senator from Alaska that no NEPA would be required at the individual timber sale level once the forest plan NEPA was completed. Over time, using briefs from Mike and Vince, the Forest Service has convinced the courts about two levels of planning (forest plan and project planning), and that a forest plan under the 1982 regulations only makes six broad decisions: (1) forestwide goals/objectives; (2) forestwide standards/guidelines; (3) management area prescriptions; (4) suitable timber land and the associated allowable sale quantity; (5) Wilderness recommendations; (6) monitoring.

    USDA Forest Service Policy Analysis Staff FS-452, Synthesis of the Critique of Land Management Planning, Vol. 1, June 1990

    The 1990 planning critique jumpstarted the effort to revise the planning regulations, leading to the first attempt, a proposed rule in 1995. The 1990 critique was done by the Forest Service, the Conservation Foundation, and Purdue University, and was based on interviews and workshops involving about 2,000 people involved with forest planning. Some of the recommendations of the report still make sense (shorten the planning process, involve the public, increase thethe professionalism and skill of planners. Other recommendations probably wouldn’t be made today (strengthen the budget link between forest plans and operations, define and clarify the link between plans and RPA).

    USDA Committee of Scientists Report, Sustaining the People’s Land, March 15, 1999

    Lots has been written on this second NFMA committee of scientists report which made recommendations that led to the 2000 planning rule. My biggest gripe is that it really looks like it was written by a committee, and it’s internally inconsistent. I also find the specific recommendations about how to do planning somewhat difficult to implement.

    Scientific Standards for Conducting Viability Assessments Under the National Forest Management Act: Report and Recommendations of the NCEAS Working Group, November 2001, National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, UC Santa Barbara, Project 3960, unpublished report

    Since species viability was clearly becoming the stumbling block in developing an implementable planning rule, this working group was commissioned by the Forest Service as work began on what eventually became the 2005 rule. This paper is a fairly complete discussion of approaches that can be taken to address viability.

    R.E. Stewart, et. al, Managing Wicked Environmental Problems, Report to Pacific Southwest Regional Forester, March 30, 2004, unpublished report

    This report was committed by the Forest Service Pacific Southwest Region as part of a study with scientists from George Mason University on the amendments to the Sierra Nevada Forest Plans, in order to address ways to address risk and uncertainty in a decision with high stakes. It’s a great case study on how forest planning is a classic wicked problem.

  2. Our efforts at “collaborative stewardship” or “co-adaptive management” require that people reason one with another, and learn from one another. Here are a few books that cast a dark shadow on our quest:

    Jacoby, Susan. 2008. The Age of American Unreason.
    Gore, Al. 2007. The Assault on Reason.
    Postman, Neil. 1985. Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business.
    Hofstadter, Richard. 1963. Anti-Intellectualism in American Life

    Still, these books set a stage for what ought to be a required topic of conversation among forest managers: Anti-Intellectualism in the Forest Service What have we missed that might help us manage our organization better? Particularly troublesome, to me at least, is what I assert to be a long-standing tradition of selecting Forest Service managers that are members of a “good old boys club” (that now allows a few “girls”). This club is not noted for the intellectual side of life. Then again, why should they be any different from anybody else in American culture.

    PS. Here is a list of books I put together on Collaboration for Reflective Practitioners that might be worth a look.

    Personal note: I have only read one of the four books mentioned above, Postman’s Amusing Ourseleves to Death. I should do a bit more exploration as to the others. For now, here is a 2008 NY Times article that interrelates all four: Why Knowledge and Logic Are Political Dirty Words.

  3. Wow, I’m beginning to grasp the full extent of the antipathy within the Forest Service against NFMA and NEPA.

    Pretty impressive!

    My humble recommendation just to provide a tiny alternative to the assembled list here–

    NEPA Under Siege:
    The Political Assault on the National Environmental Policy Act

    by Robert G. Dreher (former Deputy General Counsel U.S. EPA)

    Georgetown Environmental Law and Policy Institute
    Georgetown University Law Center

  4. David- FYI, many of the cites came from Martin Nie. Also, please do not confuse my opinions with “the Forest Service.” As I’ve said, the FS planners and NEPA practitioners I know cover the waterfront of all points of view. Believe me, we’ve all been talking about these topics, especially planning, for the last 10 years, so I know the divergent viewpoints. As for me, if there were a mainstream, I would not be in it.

    If there is a NEPA is “under siege” it is not by FS (or other agency) NEPA practitioners, after all with no NEPA we would be out of a job ;).

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