Leadership Corner

Reflecting on EADM: One year later

October 19th, 2018 at 3:00PM

Greg Smith, acting Associate Deputy Chief, National Forest System

In September 2017, Forest Service employees from each region and Washington Office deputy area gathered in Phoenix, Arizona, to take a hard look at how the agency carries out environmental analysis and decision-making. The hard truths and new ideas brought to light during those three days in Arizona lay at the core of what quickly became the Environmental Analysis and Decision-Making effort. As 14 regional and Washington Office-based cadres came together, their members set to crafting an ambitious collaborative path toward cultural transformation in the agency.

The goal of EADM is wide-ranging: to improve the health, diversity, resilience and productivity of national forests and grasslands by increasing the efficiency of environmental analysis and decision-making procedures to accomplish more work on the ground. We are working in broad categories to meet that goal—training, policy reform, increased efficiency through technology, new performance standards, improved interagency consultation and changing the way we do business.

One year after our meeting in Phoenix, we can reflect on all that we have accomplished and gear up for the work that awaits us in the year ahead. Cadres have been engaging at all levels of the agency and networking with one another to identify and share ideas, innovations and opportunities.

Late last winter, a series of regional partner roundtables allowed us to tap into our partners’ knowledge and insights to guide our thinking about EADM. Since then, National Forest Foundation and the Forest Service have been developing a strategy to engage partners in EADM topic areas that emerged from the roundtables, detailed in the EADM National Findings and Leverage Points Report.

Realizing the potential complexity of environmental analysis under NEPA, we’ve developed new training courses to increase the capacity of our subject-matter experts. On-site sessions in spring 2018 were well attended, and the fall courses currently underway are seeing solid participation. We’re also offering an online webinar through AgLearn.

The EADM national coordination team is preparing to share a series of policy and guidance letters regarding our environmental analysis processes. We also anticipate publishing the proposed revisions to our NEPA policies and procedures in early 2019. In addition, the team is developing an interactive mapping tool to display, share and store EADM innovations and is exploring an EADM story map and dashboard to improve internal and external communication.

Training on various aspects of EADM will continue to be a priority during the coming year as we develop courses related to NEPA, ESA and NHPA policies and procedures.

Finally, the Forest Service is partnering with the Office of Personnel Management Innovation Lab to help ensure lasting and meaningful change in the culture, processes, and behaviors that drive environmental analysis and decision-making.

As we take stock of the expansive set of reforms, innovations and process improvements that collectively define EADM, we are taking a hard look at what we have learned and what you all have achieved in the past year to visualize where we are headed in the coming year. Environmental Analysis and Decision-Making will remain a priority for all of us, supported by important new ideas and innovations across the Forest Service.