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Title: Project risk and appeals in U.S. Forest Service planning

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires U.S. Forest Service planning processes to be conducted by interdisciplinary teams of resource specialists to analyze and disclose the likely environmental impacts of proposed natural resource management actions on Forest Service lands. Multiple challenges associated with these processes have been a source of frustration for the agency. One of these challenges involves administrative appeals through which public entities can challenge a Forest Service decision following a NEPA process. These appeals instigate an internal review process and can result in an affirmation of the Forest Service decision, a reversal of that decision, or additional work that re-initiates all or part of the NEPA process. We examine the best predictors of appeals and their outcomes on a representative sample of 489 Forest Service NEPA processes that were decided between 2007 and 2009. While certain factors associated with pre-existing social contexts (such as a history of controversy) or pre-determined elements of a proposed action (such as the extraction of forest products) predispose certain processes to a higher risk of appeals, other practices and process-related strategies within the control of the agency also appear to bear meaningful influence on the occurrence of appeals and their outcomes. Appealsmore » and their outcomes were most strongly related to programmatic, structural (turnover of personnel in particular), and relationship risks (both internal and external) within the processes, suggesting the need for greater focus within the agency on cultivating positive internal and external relationships to manage the risk of appeals. -- Highlights: ► We examined appeals and their outcomes on 489 U.S. Forest Service NEPA processes. ► Project type, context, team turnover, and personal relationships predicted appeals. ► External relationship management and staff turnover best predicted appeal outcomes. ► Positive internal and external relationships appear to reduce appeal risks.« less
Authors:
 [1] ;  [2] ;  [3] ;  [4]
  1. Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation, Virginia Tech, 304 Cheatham Hall (0324), Blacksburg, VA 24061 (United States)
  2. Department of Environmental Studies, University of Illinois-Springfield, Public Affairs Center, Room 314, Springfield, IL 62703 (United States)
  3. School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences, Auburn University, 3301 Forestry and Wildlife Bldg., Auburn, AL 36849 (United States)
  4. Focused Science Delivery Program, Pacific Northwest Research Station, USDA Forest Service, 1249S Vinnell Way, Suite 200, Boise, ID 83709 (United States)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22246900
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Environmental Impact Assessment Review; Journal Volume: 42; Other Information: Copyright (c) 2012 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, The Netherlands, All rights reserved.; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; APPEALS; ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS; FORESTS; HEALTH HAZARDS; PLANNING; RESOURCE MANAGEMENT; REVIEWS; US NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY ACT