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Place-Based Forest Agreements & Laws Symposium

June 28, 2010

On June 8 and 9, 2010, the National Forest Foundation (NFF) and Bolle Center for People and Forests at the University of Montana hosted a symposium in Missoula to explore issues around “Place-Based Forest Agreements & Laws”. I’ve had a couple of weeks to recover and reflect on the fast-paced and fascinating discussions amongst community-based collaborators, Forest Service employees, conservationists, local government and timber/wood products representatives. The group at the symposium represented an amazing brain trust, and I was impressed with the level of engagement each person brought to the dialogue.

What did I hear?

  • There’s a lot going on out there. People of different stripes, from all over the country are thinking creatively and working hard to advance landscape-scale efforts to steward our National Forests & Grasslands. This is good news!
  • People choose different approaches, varying from collaboration to community organizing to picking a few partners they want to work with. Each approach has challenges and opportunities. All are looking for change on the ground.
  • One area of high interest at the symposium was around legislative strategies. Some participants raised concerns about losing control of local agreements when the Congressional political process starts rolling, and setting precedents through exceptions to national policy in one place that then raise questions about applications of national policies in other places. Others argued they could achieve more certainty about land stewardship over the long term through passage of place-based legislation. The discussion on which strategy or strategies are most effective at translating local agreements into on-the-ground impact will continue to be interesting as proposals are discussed at the community level, in the media, and in other public fora.

We’re still working on assembling the notes from the symposium, and will post them soon on our website. In the meantime, check out the many background documents describing the initiatives that were represented in the symposium’s panel presentations, including some overarching analysis and comparison done by Martin Nie. You can also continue the discussion here on NFF’s blog and also on the “New Century of Forest Planning” blog.

Finally, the NFF and the Bolle Center whole-heartededly thank the Ford Foundation, the Wilburforce Foundation, and the U.S. Forest Service for sponsoring the symposium.


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