The evolution of adaptive management on Forest Service lands in the Pacific Northwest
The Northwest Forest Plan was the first large-scale application of adaptive management in forestry. Much was learned in a somewhat tortured application during the first 10 years. Emerging from this experience was a new learning conceptual model that is now being applied in eastern Oregon and Washington as part of a Forest Service accelerated restoration program. Because the model is largely consistent with the new Forest Service planning rule, we are more optimistic about its full implementation. The planning rule endorses both more intensive science-based adaptive management and community collaboration. We are evaluating how well this model can be applied in the real-world as a basis for potential regional policy changes.
A project is underway with the Umatilla National Forest and its collaborative group and the Pacific Northwest Research Station to pilot test ways to achieve major innovation and progress in integrating community wellbeing and ecological resilience and sustainability. A learning focus has been adopted that moves beyond a lowest common denominator agreement to provide cover for innovation and progress that pushes the initial boundaries of acceptance and at the same time provides short and long-term learning to advance local-data driven decisions. Key drivers of initial success were found to include diversity in perspectives, distributed leadership and risk tolerance, assured learning credibility, and learning as a focus of collaboration, planning, and management.