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From Postdecisional Appeals to Predecisional Objections: Democratic Accountability in National Forest Planning

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On December 6, 2002, the USDA Forest Service published a proposed planning rule that replaces postdecisional appeals of land and resource management plans with a “predecisional objection process” within a framework of collaborative planning for sustainability. This article examines the Forest Service's rationale for eliminating postdecisional appeals, provides an overview of accountability relationships, and explores the implications for democratic accountability if the proposed rule eliminating postdecisional appeals is adopted. Appeals have provided an important mechanism of accountability in forest planning. There are questions about whether the objection process will provide a comparable means of accountability. The change represents a shift away from traditional legal and hierarchical accountability relationships toward accountability based on public deliberation and scientific input in a collaborative planning process. The success of such a model depends on successfully institutionalizing collaborative planning throughout a large, decentralized organization.

Keywords: USDA Forest Service; collaborative planning; environmental management; forest; forest management; forest resources; forestry; forestry research; forestry science; natural resource management; natural resources; policy

Document Type: Regular Article

Affiliations: Associate Professor Department of Political Science Ohio University Bentley Hall Annex Athens OH 45701-2979, Email:

Publication date: March 1, 2004

More about this publication?
  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.

    Also published by SAF:
    Forest Science
    Other SAF Publications
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