The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is incorporated into the planning and decisionmaking culture of all natural resource agencies in the United States. Yet, we know little about how the attitudes and internal interactions of interdisciplinary (ID) teams engaged in NEPA processes influence process outcomes. We conducted a Web-based survey of 106 ID team leaders involved with environmental analyses (EA) or environmental impact statements (EIS) for projects dealing with recreation and travel management on national forests. We explore how they define success in these processes and identify factors most powerfully associated with perceptions of positive outcomes. The survey revealed a tremendous diversity in definitions of success. Strong correlations between the perceived importance of particular indicators of success and their achievement suggest that preconceived notions may often help to shape process outcomes. Regression analyses revealed the following factors as the best predictors of ID team leaders' perception of an "excellent outcome": achievement of the agency mission, whether compromise had taken place between the interested parties, team satisfaction and harmony, timely process completion, and project implementation. Yet, respondents consistently ranked compromise with interested parties and team member satisfaction among the least important measures of successful NEPA processes. Results suggest that clarifying appropriate measures of success in NEPA processes across the agency could make ID team performance more consistent. The research also suggests that greater attention to ID team interactions both internally and between teams and interested publics could result in better outcomes.
Stern, Mac J.; Blahna, Dale J.; Cerveny, Lee K.; Mortimer, Michael J. 2008. Visions of success and achievement in recreation-related USDA Forest Service NEPA processes. In: Environmental Impact Assessment Review, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 1 July 2009 Louise van Loon, Peter P.J. Driessen, Arend Kolhoff, Hens A.C. Runhaar