The Timothy Duane Article.
By George Terhune

This is one QLG member's critique of Community Participation in Ecosystem Management, an article in the Ecology Law Quarterly (vol 24, pp 771-797), by Timothy Duane, Assistant Professor, Environmental Planning and Policy, UC Berkeley. The ELQ is edited by students at Boalt Hall, the UC school of law. They have a web site, but their policy is not to post articles until at least a year after publication, so I will have to summarize Professor Duane's paper instead of linking to it.

Professor Duane first discusses Principles of Participation, then compares two example cases: the `Inimim Forest Plan involving the Yuba Watershed Institute, and the QLG Pilot Project (the QLG bill) involving the Quincy Library Group .

Duane's Thesis and Examples.

In his section on principles of participation, Professor Duane says that three kinds of community must be considered: Communities of place (localities), communities of identity (based on social bonds that transcend locality), and communities of interest (based on benefits or contributions, and distant as well as local stake-holders). Our problem is the “need to reconcile communities of interest with communities of place in ecosystem management in order to address the full range of human concerns.” In traditional management by government agencies, community participation is often mere tokenism -- first the agency decides, then it defends itself against post-decision criticism. Agency expertise has value, but alternative structures for community participation are required, perhaps “collaborative planning” or “planning through consensus building.”

Duane cites studies to show the importance of personal relationships and social networks in the resolution of conflicts to make collaborative planning possible. Networks are primarily horizontal or vertical in structure: “web-like” horizontal networks with ubiquitous connections, or “maypole-like” vertical networks with all connections through one high central point. He argues that only the web-like horizontal networks constitute true “networks of civic engagement” that will support successful collaboration. He says

We must therefore evaluate the case studies to determine if they enhance the probability of successful collective action both in terms of theories of social capital and in terms of ecosystem change--for ecosystem management will otherwise fail...

Professor Duane then devotes a number of pages each to describing the `Inimim Forest Management Plan and the Quincy Library Group Proposal.

The `Inimim Forest Management Plan. (The apostrophe is said to indicate a glottal stop in pronouncing the local Native American word for ponderosa pine.)

In the late 1980's the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposed several timber harvests and land trades on the San Juan Ridge in Nevada County, CA, on the west slopes of the central Sierra Nevada mountains. Meeting strong local resistance in the immediate area, the BLM district manager played a “visionary role” by suggesting local involvement in the management of 10 parcels totaling 1,813 acres of BLM land on the San Juan Ridge. According to Duane, “The San Juan Ridge community is a small, isolated community [of] long time residents and relative newcomers.” Many of the newcomers were “back to the land” people from the 1960s and 1970s, including furniture makers and members of the Timber Framers Guild “whose members rely on high-quality old-growth forests to produce larger timbers that are difficult to produce from smaller trees.” This community shares “an unusual mix of values that recognize both the utilitarian function of timber and the ecological function of forests.” It was “an unusual and productive place to begin [the BLM] experiment, for the community was not already divided into polarized camps on forest management.”

The BLM staff then worked with the local residents, who formed a non-profit organization, the Yuba Watershed Institute (YWI), to develop a detailed plan, manage the forest, and implement alternatives.

The success of the `Inimim Forest case suggests possible criteria for successful delegation of authority to a consensus-based decision process tied to a community of place:

1) environmentalists are not disproportionately less represented in the community than in the state or nation (i.e. there is a balance of power among the competing interests that is consistent across social and institutional scales);

2) the agreements and plans are consistent with existing state and federal environmental laws; and

3) it is an incremental experiment affecting a relatively small area... [only] 0.6 percent of the 300,000 acres of BLM land the Folsom area of the Sierra Nevada foothills.

Professor Duane rounds off the `Inimim case with what he claims is an example of how YWI supports the principles of “social capital” formation.

There is a sense of identity with the place that is distinct from another broader identity with western Nevada county, where development pressures and a more conservative social context have polarized and divided the community. For example, the San Juan Ridge community has consistently supported the most liberal county Supervisor, and it was generally in agreement about future land use plans during the county's recent General Plan update process.

The Quincy Library Group and the QLG pilot project.

According to Professor Duane:

[QLG] represents an effort to delegate management of public lands to local interests through national legislation.

[QLG members] had very little social capital to work with when they began negotiations. The community's social structure was also burdened by a legacy of vertical rather than horizontal social networks: mill workers and their families were dependent upon mill owners in an economy with few other options, and mill owners in turn were dependent upon the Forest Service for raw logs. The new logging restrictions altered the balance of power, however, forcing the timber industry and its allies to give local environmentalists a seat at the table. This made “communicative rationality” possible.

[The new plan] emphasized areas of agreement rather than disagreement. Large roadless areas would remain off-limits for at least five years, while logging would be allowed in other areas as long as “group selection” and individual tree selection techniques were used instead of clear-cutting. ...Concern about forest fire risk was also an area of agreement.

The QLG agreement is appealing on its surface, for it represents at least a local effort to reach agreement by both sides in the forest management debate. ... But there is good reason to be less than enthusiastic... Much of the community's shared sense of identity in those efforts derived from a belief that imperialist patterns of capital investment and exploitation had made the region a mere colony of urban interests. ... This perspective meant that two key “communities of interest” were explicitly excluded from the negotiations: the Forest Service itself and non-local environmental groups.

Professor Duane summarizes his conclusions in a final paragraph comparing the two cases.

The `Inimim Forest case stands in sharp contrast with the Quincy Library Group proposal. In the `Inimim Forest case, broader interests were represented, there was and continues to be compliance with existing laws (FLPMA and NEPA), and the experiment is incremental and therefore truly local. The `Inimim Forest experiment has the potential to transform community participation in ecosystem management, but only where doing so will not result in spill-over effects that conflict with the interests of parties who have not participated in the planning process. The same can not be said of the Quincy Library Group proposal. The QLG proposal would affect thirty times as much forest in a single year as the `Inimim Plan will affect in its entire life-time. H.R. 858 [the QLG Bill] therefore runs the risk of being a Trojan Horse for dismantling existing environmental laws and disempowering environmental interests. That is not the same thing as “community participation,” and we should not be fooled into thinking it is. “Community participation” is something that needs careful design and considerate implementation, where all communities can contribute to “communicative rationality.” This includes communities of interest as well as place.

My critique.

In responding to Professor Duane's article I will argue against his claim that the `Inimim case is an example for significantly wider application. In doing so I am not opposing or denigrating the `Inimim plan or the San Juan Ridge community. I am only saying that Duane makes claims for it that are not consistent with his theory and cannot be supported by the facts.

Professor Duane says that only “horizontal networks of civic engagement,” i.e. “bringing together agents of equivalent status and power,” can support successful ecosystem management, and he claims that the BLM and YWI are partners in that kind of horizontal relationship. He uses words like “shared management,” “successful delegation of authority,” and “include communities in the decisionmaking processes” to describe the relationship, but he is making a false claim. The text of the `Inimim Forest Draft Management Plan– no final was published, just the draft and a record of decision– states very clearly that the essential relationship of BLM to YWI is vertical not horizontal. “[The BLM] ...will retain the final authority. Decision-making authority for the management of public lands cannot be delegated. ... [The YWI] and the Timber Framers Guild will continue to participate in helping develop goals and objectives. From time to time they will also make land management recommendations to the BLM.”

Developing goals and objectives, and making management recommendations sounds a great deal like the QLG proposal, not delegation of decision-making authority.

Professor Duane also says that success in a collaborative effort requires all communities to participate in an equal horizontal relationship. Yet he makes it clear that YWI membership was drawn exclusively from the San Juan Ridge community, and that only YWI and the Timber Framers were in on the deal with BLM. When they drew up their `Inimim plan, the rest of Nevada County and particularly the Wise Use people were effectively ignored and excluded. By any reasonable definition, this was the “polarized” situation that Duane warns against, it's just that the other pole was absent.

However, let us assume for the sake of argument that the `Inimim plan is founded on a proper horizontal network and will be completely successful during implementation. In this case it would still be virtually irrelevant to our most difficult problems of ecosystem management, because

1) The `Inimim Forest is 10 scattered parcels averaging 180 acres apiece, and Duane says its small size is one of the criteria for its success as an example. Without doubt 180 acres is one kind of ecosystem, but it does not adequately represent the larger scale ecosystems where land management issues are most problematic and contentious. To manage all federal land in California according to Duane's criteria would require over 10,000 management plans of `Inimim scale.

2) Duane makes it very clear that the San Juan Ridge community is far from typical, and that its exotic character was an essential element in whatever success the `Inimim plan represents. The plain fact is that no more than a handful of similar communities exist, and according to sociological theory presented in his article, it is difficult if not impossible to create them, even if that were desirable.

When he draws a “sharp contrast” between the `Inimim case and the QLG case, Professor Duane makes a number of untrue statements and draws a number of conclusions that are inconsistent with the statements he does make. Four examples:

1. Duane claims that in the `Inimim case broader interests were represented, whereas in the QLG case two key communities of interest were explicitly excluded from the negotiations: the Forest Service itself and non-local environmental groups.

In his attempt to show that interests were balanced in the `Inimim case, Duane constructs a severely tortured definition of balance: “Environmentalists are not disproportionately less represented in the community than in the state or nation (i.e. there is a balance of power among the competing interests that is consistent across social and institutional scales).” Well of course he had to say “not disproportionately less represented” because they were disproportionately more represented. According to his own description, environmentalists dominate both the San Juan Ridge and the YWI. To claim that this represents a “balance of power ... that is consistent across social and institutional scales” is ludicrous.

Regarding QLG, the only explicit exclusions occurred when Forest Service people were asked to leave parts of one or two meetings out of about fifty QLG meetings since the summer of 1993, so that sensitive subjects could be discussed that might either offend or compromise Forest Service people. No environmental group has ever been turned away, non-local or otherwise. The only denial of access has been self-denial, probably based on the inconvenient fact that QLG does most of its forest work near the forest instead of in San Francisco or Washington DC.

It is true that the Forest Service was never a direct participant in QLG negotiations or decisions, because either having QLG involved in Forest Service decision-making, or having the Forest Service involved in QLG's strategy-making was always recognized by both parties as improper and illegal. Duane does not seem to understand this distinction, so he faults QLG for simply obeying the law.

2. Duane claims that in the `Inimim case there is compliance with existing laws, whereas the QLG Bill runs the risk of being a Trojan Horse for dismantling environmental laws and disempowering environmental interests.

There is no “stark contrast” here, because section 2(c)(3) of the QLG Bill says “COMPLIANCE.-- All resource management activities required [by the bill] shall be implemented to the extent consistent with applicable Federal law and the standards and guidelines for the conservation of the California spotted owl as set forth in the California Spotted Owl Sierran Province Interim Guidelines or the subsequently issued guidelines, whichever are in effect.” Furthermore, the bill allows 300 days for a required project EIS, and it specifies yearly and end-of-project reports on compliance, implementation, and effectiveness, by the Forest Service direct to Congress.

Environmental interests would not be dis-empowered, but it is clear that national environmental group leaders fear some dilution of their power.

3. Duane claims that the `Inimim experiment is very small and therefore truly local, whereas the QLG bill would affect thirty times as much forest in a single year as the Inimim Plan will affect in its entire life-time.

This is true but should be seen as an advantage of the QLG proposal. The problem isn't that federal land management agencies can't do a few small projects well. The problem is that they are responsible for sustaining viable ecosystems at very large scale, and by anybody's measure, even their own, the agencies are far short of meeting that responsibility. QLG is at least addressing the problem at the scale of the problem, not at the more comfortable small scale of Duane's self-imposed theoretical solution. At which scale do the most difficult issues arise? Which project is more likely to provide information and examples of greater long-term value?

4. And finally, Duane claims that the QLG bill differs from the `Inimim plan because QLG “represents an effort to delegate management of public lands to local interests through national legislation.”

The plain fact, easily checked in public documents, is that neither the `Inimim plan nor the QLG bill delegates any management function or decision-making authority to a non-federal entity. Only by misrepresenting the public record can Duane claim that both YWI and QLG would acquire such power. Unfortunately for Duane, being doubly wrong doesn't make him right.

Closing thoughts.

I think the opponents of QLG are well represented by Professor Duane and his paper. Plain facts don't matter much; the important thing is to be politically correct. For example, Duane not only falsely attributes decision-making authority to both YWI and QLG, he then can see only beneficial consequences in the case of YWI, and only sinister implications in the case of QLG.

And Professor Duane sees a proof of good versus bad community participation in the fact that national environmental organizations didn't object to YWI but do object to QLG. First that's very flimsy evidence, but it also raises another question: Why didn't the national environmental leaders notice that the YWI plan seriously contradicts their position on old growth timber, where it says “The long term goal of the `Inimim plan is to cut and grow older, larger diameter timber...?” Probably for the same reason they can't give any credit to QLG for its recommendation to put hundreds of thousands of additional acres permanently “off base” to timber harvest, and other hundreds of thousands of acres in “deferred” status for at least five years. The main difference is that they find YWI to be politically correct, while QLG is not. YWI is safely dominated by environmentalists, while QLG includes an uncomfortable variety of other people and wider community interests.

Bottom line: Opposition to the QLG proposal makes much better sense if you study it as an example of turf ecology, not forest ecology.

Sunday, January ,(, /),( 0(:,(:,( AM