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Reflections from USDA Forest Service Employees on Institutional Constraints to Engaging and Serving Their Local Communities

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Although community relationship building has been recognized since the early 1980s as integral to forest management, it has not been widely supported or adopted. Today, relationship building depends largely on the innovation and commitment of forest supervisors and staff. The institutional environment and its culture play an important role in building capacity for relationship building with communities at each unit, as well as supporting employees' attempts to serve local communities. The research presented takes an in-depth look at the institutional constraints to engaging and serving local communities from the perspectives of 20 USDA Forest Service personnel from three units. Research findings reveal agency, unit, and employee level constraints including, diminished resources, increased departmentalism, staff turnover, and long-distance commuting. We recommend that the Forest Service provides opportunities for successful relationship building efforts and assesses innovative techniques in a Community Partnerships Demonstration Project.

Keywords: USDA Forest Service; communities; institutional constraints; relationship building

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2007-01-01

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  • 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.

    2015 Impact Factor: 1.476
    Ranking: 22 of 66 in forestry

    Average time from submission to first decision: 39.6 days*
    June 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017

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