The Right Mix For Collaboration

We have had a number of discussions about collaboration and the right mix of communities of interest and communities of place.

Here’s a real world example, the National Forest Advisory Board for the Black Hills National Forest. Here’s a link to their charter.

They incorporate many of the concepts we have discussed, including being advisory beyond planning. Here’s the mix:


a The membership of the Board shall consist of not more than 16 people, each of whom will represent a particular interest or point of view. The committee shall be representative of the Black Hills community interests and fairly balanced. Membership
shall be representative of the interests shown in the following three categories:

(1) Five persons who—

(a) Represent economic development;
(b) Represent developed outdoor recreation, off-highway vehicle users, or commercial recreation;
(c) Represent energy and mineral development;
(d) Represent the commercial timber industry; or
(e) Hold a Federal grazing permit or other land use permit within the area for which the committee is organized.

(2) Five persons representing—
(a) Nationally recognized environmental organizations;
(b) Regionally or locally recognized environmental organizations;
(c) Dispersed recreation;
(d) Archaeology and history; or
(e) Nationally or regionally recognized sportsmen’s groups, such as anglers or hunters.
(3) Six persons who hold—

(a) South Dakota state-elected office or elected-officer’s appointee;
(b) Wyoming state-elected office or elected officer’s appointee;
(c) South Dakota or Wyoming county- or local-elected office
(d) Tribal government-elected or -appointed office;
(e) A position as a South Dakota State natural resource agency official; and (f) A position as a Wyoming State natural resource agency Official.

What do y’all think of this mix?

7 thoughts on “The Right Mix For Collaboration”

  1. “What do y’all think of this mix?” Highly Inappropriate!

    We are dealing with the people’s forests, the national forests. In this particular case we are dealing with The Black Hills National Forest. What prompts the necessity of or even the advisability of chartering an “advisory board”? Ok, they do have a long history with the US Forest Service: e.g. grazing advisory boards from the 1913 Use Book. Still, Why? I can understand them back in the early part of the last century in the context of the Use Book, when the idea was to let forest users work out their own best “profit.” But now?

    Maybe we would be better served (both “we” the American people, and those charged with managing the national forests in the public interest) if we were to allow said “advisors” along with all others to “submit comments” on proposed federal actions and/or to otherwise engage with others in either virtual or “in place” roundtable discussions. And to grant said advisors no other authorities or special privileges, i.e. never charter them in the first place.

    As an aside, this particular mix is pretty much stacked in the West: 2/3 for development, 1/3 (maybe) for the environment, for the “critters”, for wildness.

  2. I distinctly remember a fellow named Art Goodtimes, a Western Colorado county commissioner who I met a public lands confab somewhere. I remember being astonished that he was not an outright, died-in-the-wool advocate for “development interests.” In fact he looked and acted much more like an environmentalist. But Art was an anomaly. Almost all “elected officials” in the West (other than from the namby-pamby places like San Francisco or Portland) are development advocates. At least that’s the way I count them up from my many meetings with them both as a forest service planning geek and as an appointed, later elected official.

    I also distinctly remember being at Utah League of Cities of Towns statewide meeting in Salt Lake City when I first got on a local town planning commission. I picked up a brochure introducing the Utah State Legislature. Guess who sponsored the brochure: The Utah Mining lobby (can’t recall what they called themselves). Guess who paid for the lunches at the meeting? Not the Sierra Club! And not the cities or towns!

    So yes, I’m saying that pretty much that the mix is 2/3 to 1/3 (and not more, with some rare exceptions). The survey I present is not scientific. But then again, what is?

  3. so Dave, are you arguing that this recommendation from the “One Third of the Nation’s Land” is out of date, or generally not a good idea?

    “State and Local Roles
    Recommendation 13: State and local government should be given an effective role in the Federal agency land use planning. Federal land use plans should be developed in consultation with these governments, circulated to them for comments, and should conform to state and local zoning to the maximum extent feasible. As a general rule, no use of public land should be permitted which is prohibited by state or local zoning.

  4. Sharon,

    Government to government conversations are always a good idea, but “jurisdiction” must be kept in mind. The federal lands are federal for a reason (or better stated: for various reasons, all transcending the needs of local constituents).

    There is no reason (that I can think of) to require that “Federal lands use plans should … conform to state and local zoning to the maximum extent feasible.” A “general rule” might be: “Any land planning effort should be informed by all other land planning efforts.”

    All land managers and land users need to keep in mind that wildlife are migratory and don’t know the difference between our jurisdictional boundaries. Water and air don’t stay put either. The list of reasons for collaboration builds from there. Certainly governments ought to comment on each others’ plans, and work collaboratively where appropriate.

  5. I think there is some value in finding a middle path here. Public lands law, including forest law, is very much characterized by “cooperative federalism.” Lots of public land laws make references to cooperating with states on planning matters. That does not bother me much, though their inconsistent application causes some cynicism (why, for example, do some administration’s seemingly ignore state and local calls for MORE environmental protection than provided by federal decision makers).

    As for advisory boards, it all depends on what roles and advisory powers they are given. No logical charter will question Congress’s right to make choices about how to govern the national forests. But there is then the question of how to operationalize these mandates and goals; and perhaps how to situate these mandates in a more localized context. And it is here where an advisory board can perhaps provide valuable assistance, input, feedback, etc.–in helping to meet the mandates of various environmental laws in more effective and efficient ways. If properly established, with clear boundaries and charter, advisory boards could be quite useful to the USFS.

    We should also be careful when considering the compositional requirements of advisory boards. Some careful explaining needs to be done as to why interests X and Y are chosen, when not others. Do they logically stem from the governing legislation (e.g., the following interests chosen because they represent multiple uses as defined in MUSYA, etc.).

  6. I’ve observed a Forest Level collaborative process and attended a half dozen meetings of the coalition. The mix was similar to what Sharon listed. There were county commissioners, loggers sportsmens groups, wilderness advocates, horsemen, motorized use etc.. The mix may have well been 2 to 1 for active resource management. But that didn’t seem to be a problem as the wilderness and nature advocates seemed to have a veto power over the whole process. They struggled quite a bit and had heated discussions. Eventually they did come up with something they could agree on. I talked with one of the logging advocates afterwards and asked what he thought, and his reply was the timber industry had next to nothing going in and ended with a little bit coming out.


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