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U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT

Oregon / Washington

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Background

The role of scientists in land management planning has long been controversial in the Pacific Northwest. Issues include the balance of scientists involved in the process, confusion over appropriate roles for scientists and managers, and the degree of interaction among scientists, managers, and citizens. In addition, it has been difficult to sustain interaction among scientists and managers throughout what is often a prolonged and tumultuous process.

The most recent model in western Oregon was contained in the 1993 Forest Ecosystem Management Assessment Team (FEMAT). Although selected specialists from the management agencies participated, FEMAT was predominately a team of scientists, and policy-makers were specifically excluded from the process. Repercussions from the FEMAT/NWFP model of scientist involvement have been numerous, both positive and negative. Other models of scientist-manager interaction have been tried more recently in the Pacific Northwest (e.g., ICBEMP, Tongass Forest Plan Revision), also with their own advantages and disadvantages. Despite shortcomings, these efforts indicate that analysis quality and management credibility can be substantially enhanced by judicious involvement of scientists.

The RMP Steering Committee has affirmed that the RMP revision process should include specific roles and tasks for scientists, and that interested citizens and cooperators should have opportunities to review the scientific basis of the RMP analysis and to suggest science findings for our consideration (RMP Steering Committee meeting, February 13, 2005).

Objectives

The BLM hopes to create a sustained dialog among scientists and managers throughout the RMP revision process that respects the roles and enhances the understanding of both parties. Involvement of scientists in the RMP revision process should:

  • Provide the BLM with an understanding of current scientific knowledge
  • Provide assurance that the analytical process is founded on credible assumptions and uses appropriate methodologies
  • Provide specialized sources of expertise not otherwise available
  • Provide innovative scientific perspectives concerning management approaches to meet RMP objectives
  • Provide assurance that relevant science is considered, reasonably interpreted, and accurately presented; and that uncertainties and risks are acknowledged and documented
  • Share relevant information and knowledge with interested citizens, interest groups, cooperators, and media