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.
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