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Federalism and Natural Resource Policy: Comparing State and National Management of Public Forests

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Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Author: Koontz, Tomas
Date: 1997
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/3561
Sector: Forestry
Region: North America
Subject(s): Workshop
forest management
state and local governance
resource management
environmental policy
institutional analysis--IAD framework
forest policy
Abstract: "In the U.S. federal system, public policy responsibilities are placed in multiple government jurisdictions. The question of differences in jurisdictions for various government activities is a fundamental issue. Unfortunately, despite the importance of this question about how to best sort out Federal and state responsibilities, little systematic research has been undertaken to describe and compare policy making across these two levels. "To more fully understand differences between U.S. state and Federal policy, this study compares state and national policy in the context of one policy area, management of public forests. Policy processes and outcomes are examined. A substantial literature presently exists on several related subjects, including higher versus lower levels of government responsibility, factors influencing policy processes, and outcomes. But little systematic work has examined the question, To what extent do state and national public forest policy processes differ, and what effect do these differences have on policy outcomes? Addressing this question provides valuable insights into the importance of governance arrangements to forest policy. It also contributes to federalism and natural resource policy theory more generally. "Data for this study come from four cases across two different regions of the United States. Each case consists of two public forests with similar physical characteristics but different governmental jurisdictions (state versus national), to emphasize the effects of human actions on policy processes and outcomes. For each of the eight forests, data gathering and analysis involves several techniques, including interviews, observations, and analyses of written documents. A number of precautions are taken to enhance the validity, dependability, and objectivity of the findings. "Policy analysis is undertaken within the Institutional Analysis and Development (IAD) framework. This framework focuses the researcher's attention on the interaction of actors in action situations pertaining to forest management decisions and activities. To understand policy processes, data are collected regarding policy participants' values, attributes of the organizational community in which they work, rules that shape their incentives and constraints, and interactions with those outside of the organization. To understand outcomes, data are collected regarding both fiscal outcomes and forest uses; the former include timber sale profitability, use fee collection, and transfer payments to local governments, while the latter focus on investigation of commodity provision, recreational facilities, and environmental protection. "Analysis suggests important differences between national and state policy processes and outcomes. While national and state officials share similar values and beliefs, the former face greater statutory, regulatory, and planning constraints affecting their activities than do state policy makers. These constraints require more public input and higher levels of environmental protection. Patterns of interaction also differ; those favoring forest preservation for ecological and amenity values communicate more with national than state officials, while those favoring the use of forests for commodity production communicate more with state than national officials. Outcomes reflect these differences. State officials provide more timber, at higher net profit, than do national officials, and they transfer more revenue to local governments. But national officials devote a higher level of resources to provide recreational benefits, and they undertake greater efforts to provide non-timber environmental benefits than do state officials."

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