Wanted: Studies on Costs of Planning

Emily Schembra, a student at University of Montana, who is studying forest planning with Martin Nie, an originator of this blog, was looking for any papers or information around the cost of NFMA planning.

Here’s her note:

“looking for information on costs associated with forest planning (or implementation of the forest plan). So far, I have a 1986 GAO report on the Boise/Clearwater National Forests and a 1994 GAO report on USFS efforts to achieve cost efficiency, and other less specific academic articles, but not much else that focuses specifically on costs. ”

It reminded me of the famous Fred Norbury quote “How can we say planning takes too long and costs too much if we don’t know how long it takes or how much it costs?”

7 thoughts on “Wanted: Studies on Costs of Planning”

  1. The National Forests in Florida conducted an informal study on the costs of NEPA for the past 3 years. NEPA costs amounted to 27% of the sale prep costs. Sale prep costs were 72% of total sales cost. NFs in FL had no appeals or protests, so costs were probably substantially lower than for forests with these impacts. Contact Dave Borland, TMSO for details dborland@fs.fed.us

  2. How bout what it costs to do an EIS in Montana, vs. one in Colorado…. 🙂 🙂 . Good luck Emily…best do a FOIA…and find someone who can tell you what “activity codes do.” I gots a feeling you’re gonna find the USFS doesn’t track such costs…They sure can’t tell us what an EIS costs.

  3. in allocating costs to “planning”, how does one drawn clear lines between planning, monitoring, managing, and just being an informed manager?

    • You’re right, the lines are difficult to draw. However, I’d love to see something that attempted to draw the lines (or find the bottlenecks) in planning. What, exactly, costs the most? NEPA vs. NFMA? Developing alternatives? Writing standards and guidelines? Monitoring plan compliance?

      • Emily, I think that NFMA may be fairly easy, as each forest in planning is budgeted specifically for its plan. It funds an ID team’s time and other costs. I think $300K to 500 K a year or so..(others?)

        NEPA (not NFMA) had several studies done that you could look at, including ones associated with the outsourcing effort, and some with NEPA for the 21st Century http://www.fs.fed.us/pnw/about/programs/fsd/NEPA/index.shtml

        Forest plan monitoring should also be able to be traced through “IM” funding.(Can’t remember if that is now packaged with planning funds). There is also IM used for assessments prior to planning. I am sure that someone in the FS has given testimony about how much it costs to do NFMA planning, as the idea was that the new rule would reduce costs.
        I would call Dave Seescholtz to track those down.


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