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Plan well, plan often

Block, Bill. 2013. Plan well, plan often. Journal of Wildlife Management. 77(3): 427.

doi: 10.1002/jwmg.546

This issue includes an invited paper by Courtney Schultz and her colleagues commenting on the application of the newly adopted U.S. Forest Service Planning Rule (hereafter, the rule) for wildlife. The rule is basically implementing language to interpret the spirit and intent of the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) of 1976. Laws such as NFMA require additional clarification to enable responsible parties to implement the law as intended by Congress. The NFMA had 1 phrase related to wildlife, ". . . provide for diversity of plant and animal communities based on the suitability and capability of the specific land area . . ." Although somewhat brief and simply stated, interpretation and implementation of the language has been difficult. The 1982 planning rule was the second version developed and was largely in effect until superseded by the latest planning rule. The 1982 rule included 3 key provisions relevant to wildlife: management indicator species (MIS), species viability, and monitoring. I will not dwell on details here, but these 3 provisions proved to be difficult to implement and full of real and perceived obstacles. The concept of MIS was largely debunked in the scientific literature for numerous reasons. Even so, forests selected MIS despite wide-scale criticism of species selected. Species viability is a challenging concept, let alone one easily addressed by management agencies. As a result, it proved problematic to implement. Monitoring is the foundation of adaptive management. Rigorous monitoring of wildlife populations and habitats can be costly. It also requires a strong commitment and wherewithal to get it done. Resource agencies such as the Forest Service have limited funds and personnel. As a result, some things are more difficult to accomplish than others. Often, monitoring was difficult to implement. The bottom line is that the provisions for wildlife in the 1982 planning rule were difficult, if not impossible, to implement. Clearly, the agency needed a plan that worked; hence, they embarked on a journey to improve the planning rule.

Keywords: Journal of Wildlife Management, U.S. Forest Service Planning Rule, National Forest Management Act (NFMA)

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Title: RMRS Other Publications: Plan well, plan often
Electronic Publish Date: October 24, 2013
Last Update:
October 24, 2013

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