NEW MEXICO – Planners and team members from 24 forests revising their land management plan, along with regional and Washington Office program leaders, met in Albuquerque, New Mexico, June 18-20 to share lessons learned. The three-day workshop focused on lessons learned related to one of the three important outcomes of planning: fostering long-standing relationships with our public, trust-building processes, and a vision/blueprint for more effective projects within the unit. The workshop was coordinated by the Planning Staff within Ecosystem Management Coordination, although the majority of the 115 attendees were also presenters or facilitators.
The meeting incorporated feedback from a 2017 national survey of planners about on-going challenges, and monthly “deep dive” calls with planners over the past two years. Land management planning is among the most complex and time-consuming activities within the USDA Forest Service. A typical land management plan guides management activities across an administrative unit for a 10 to 15 year window, with focused direction around desired conditions, management objectives, standards and guidelines, suitability for multiple uses, and other information including management approaches and monitoring requirements. Currently, there are 130 plans in place across 110 administrative units in the National Forest System. Many of these plans are outdated and the time to complete revision under the 2012 Planning Rule is taking longer than anticipated due to a variety of cultural, administrative and capacity challenges.
The meeting resulted in a reinvigorated planning peer network focused on grassroots solutions, a library of contemporary lessons and best practices, and a plethora of ideas on how we can work together to advance thought and practice around this body of work.