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Collaboration at Arm's Length: Navigating Agency Engagement in Landscape-Scale Ecological Restoration Collaboratives

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In 2010, the USDA Forest Service created the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) to fund implementation of landscape-scale ecological restoration strategies. The program requires landscape projects to engage in collaboration throughout implementation over a 10-year period. A central tension in the program is the extent to which the Forest Service can engage in the collaborative process while retaining authority for management decisions on Forest Service lands and adhering to statutory guidance on collaboration. Drawing on comparative research of the first 10 projects enrolled in the CFLRP, this paper describes how Forest Service personnel navigated this tension and played roles in each collaborative categorized as leadership, membership, involvement, and intermittence. It concludes by suggesting that agency staff engage in collaborative dialogue on substantive issues while operating from an “arm's length” posture procedurally. This approach can minimize time and energy spent dealing with procedural concerns while allowing agency employees and collaborators to share knowledge, information, ideas, and perspectives to make better-informed decisions as they undertake landscape-scale ecological restoration work.

Keywords: collaboration; ecological restoration; landscape scale; statutory compliance

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 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.

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

    Also published by SAF:
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