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New Choices and Challenges for Regulated Private Forests: The “Alternate Plan” Option

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The state of Washington has developed a policy instrument that substantially amends traditional “top-down” private forest regulation. Called the “Alternate Plan” option, it gives landowners unusual new flexibility in designing forest management projects for their property. Projects may depart from any of the state's established Forest Practices Rules, if the property owner can satisfactorily show that a customized proposal would provide equivalent environmental protection. The state provides a prompt review and decision and then supervises project implementation and monitors compliance with the approved project specifications. We interviewed 109 stakeholders involved in the design, use, and implementation of this innovative program. From this data we evaluate the functional advantages and challenges inherent in this new regulatory approach, suggest modifications to improve its effectiveness, and discuss policymaking implications.

Keywords: alternate plans; collaboration; forest owners; forest policy; private forests

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2011

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.
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