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Escaping the National Forest Planning Quagmire: Using Public Participation GIS to Assess Acceptable National Forest Use

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The appropriate role of the “public” in the planning and management of national forests in the United States is both statutorily vague and socially dynamic. Should forest management be consistent with public values and preferences for these lands? And, how should “consistency” be defined and evaluated? In 2012, a public participation geographic information systems (PPGIS) study was completed for the Chugach National Forest (CNF) in Alaska (United States) that measured public values and preferences to assist future forest plan revision. Place-based public preferences were assessed for consistency with existing CNF national forest plan (2002) prescriptions and to identify areas of potential conflict over forest management direction. Public use preferences were largely consistent with forest plan prescriptions but with some exceptions. Larger-scale analysis of PPGIS preference data provides more detailed information about potential forest conflict and indicates that large-area forest management prescriptions may be too general to guide place-specific forest planning needs. We discuss the use of PPGIS methods for future forest plans, given the release of a new regulatory planning rule for the USDA Forest Service in 2012.

Keywords: forest planning; public participation GIS (PPGIS); spatial analysis

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 1, 2013

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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