In the United States, over 191 million acres of land is managed by the United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service, a federal government agency. In several western U.S. states, organized collaborative groups have become a de facto governance approach to providing sustained input on management decisions on much public land. This is most extensive in Oregon, where at least 25 “forest collaboratives” currently exist. This affords excellent opportunities for studies of many common themes in collaborative governance, including trust, shared values, and perceptions of success. We undertook a statewide survey of participants in Oregon forest collaboratives to examine differences in motivations, perceptions of success, and satisfaction among Forest Service participants (“agency participants”), who made up 31% of the sample, and other respondents (“non-agency”) who represent nonfederal agencies, interest groups, citizens, and non-governmental groups. We found that agency participants differed from non-agency participants. They typically had higher annual incomes, and were primarily motivated to participate to build trust. However, a majority of all respondents were similar in not indicating any other social or economic motivations as their primary reason for collaborating. A majority also reported satisfaction with their collaborative— despite not ranking collaborative performance on a number of specific potential outcomes highly. Together, this suggests that collaboration in Oregon is currently perceived as successful despite not achieving many specific outcomes. Yet there were significant differences in socioeconomic status and motivation that could affect the ability of agency and nonagency participants to develop and achieve mutually-desired goals.
Davis, Emily Jane; White, Eric M.; Cerveny, Lee K.; Seesholtz, David; Nuss, Meagan L.; Ulrich, Donald R. 2017. Comparison of USDA Forest Service and stakeholder motivations and experiences in collaborative federal forest governance in the Western United States. Environmental Management. 60(5): 908-921. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-017-0913-5.