I know its the “holiday season,” but here’s some homework (hey, only 9 pages!) for us forest-planning freaks….
“Collaboration at Arm’s Length: Navigating Agency Engagement in Landscape-Scale Ecological Restoration Collaboratives,” by William Hale Butler, Journal of Forestry, November 2013.
The full text is here: http://wp.me/a3AxwY-4fU
Management and Policy Implications
This research suggests approaches for engaging in collaborative landscape-scale ecological restoration while balancing the tensions of agency authority and levels of engagement in collaboration. Through an analysis of the experiences of the first 10 CFLRP landscape projects, the paper argues that Forest Service staff and collaborators might be well served to engage in collaborative dialogue on substantive matters while maintaining an “arm’s length” posture procedurally. These cases suggest that when agency employees play too strong a role in collaborative decisionmaking processes, they risk being challenged on procedural grounds. These challenges focus attention on procedural concerns and can hamper dialogue on substantive issues. On the other hand, agency staff and collaborators avoided procedural concerns when they separated agency employees from collaborative decisionmaking. When accompanied by a joint commitment to engage in collaborative dialogue on the nature and content of those decisions, collaborators and agency staff have been able to work through substantive ecological restoration concerns together. This approach can ensure statutory compliance while deflecting challenges that the agency is co-opting the collaborative. Meanwhile, it allows agency personnel and stakeholders to engage in dialogue on substantive matters and bring a range of perspectives, ideas, values, expertise, and knowledge to bear on landscape-scale ecological restoration issues.