Alex Dunn raises another question that is definitely a piece of the planning rule discussion. What about monitoring? People do a lot of monitoring; at the same time, there is never enough money for monitoring. Once I spent some time attempting to frame the “monitoring problem,” and even remember doing some interviews, but could not even achieve consensus on the framing of the problem. That’s when you know you have a serious problem.
Here are a couple of pieces to the puzzle:
A. Who decides what at what scale? Conundrum.
1. Logically each forest would develop an integrated monitoring plan from broadscale to project level. Yet a variety of handbooks have different required monitoring, so it seems like it’s a patchwork. One unit told me once “we don’t know what we’re going to monitor because it depends on what the new wildlife biologist is interested in.” So it seems to be a constantly shifting patchwork.
2. But some very important things don’t make sense to be monitored separately by forests, and have regionwide or species-wide plans for monitoring. Like a species, why would monitoring plans vary by forest?
3. Monitoring should be done across all lands, so how does that fit? Should the FS work with other agencies, the States, landscape scale collaboratives?
4. Watershed monitoring makes sense down a drainage/river. This scale would then be larger than the landscape scale collaboratives.
It’s almost like we should distinguish some basic things to monitor, say air and water quality, and basically do them the same nationwide and across all lands, and then the other important things to monitor each deserve consideration of what scale is appropriate. Yet, we expect “forest plan monitoring” to be some kind of anchor. Why? What’s that about?
B. Another piece to the puzzle is that there are units that have monitoring programs that seem fairly successful; that annually stakeholders go out and review the results; and the stakeholders and the unit talk about potential causes of the results, and future research questions and potential changes in management practices.
These two pieces don’t really fit. Difficulty, challenges, and yet perceived success.
I’m sure there are more pieces to the monitoring puzzle; perhaps by carefully examining all the pieces we could attempt to solve the puzzle. If we could decide, and explain how we would be accountable, it might be a convincing approach to appropriators, which would then possibly get around the funding problem.