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Before designing your own pilot, the Forest Options Group urges you to read its entire report. The appendices in particular help explain how the Forest Service works and how other agency experiences have inspired the five pilots proposed by the Forest Options Group.
In designing a pilot, it is helpful to imagine that you are Gifford Pinchot in 1905. If you could design the Forest Service any way you wanted, but knowing what you know today about the Forest Service and other federal agencies, how would you do things differently?
First is a board of directors overseeing the forest supervisor. If you choose to have a board, you will also need to decide how the board is selected and what authority it has.
Individual board members can be appointed by the secretary of agriculture, chief of the Forest Service, or some other elected or appointed official. Or they can be appointed as collaborative boards, as in pilots 2 and 3. They could also be elected by some group of people such as member of a "friends of the forest." If you choose any of these boards, you will need to decide exactly who appoints or votes for the board or board members.
However selected, the board could have the power to plan the forest as in pilot 3; to approve annual work plans and fire (and possibly hire) the forest supervisor as in pilot 2; or to oversee just one aspect of the forest, as in pilot 5. If you choose a board structure, you should clearly identify the authority that the board will have.
A second governance structure is the concept of a forest trust. As explained in pilot 4, the trust structure is very different from the current structure of the Forest Service, which might be described as a "scientific management" structure.
If you decide to use the trust structure, you will need to answer the following questions:
A fourth governance structure is the status quo, which consists of the chief-region-forest-district hierarchy. This structure is used in pilots 1 and 2.
Will forest managers in your pilot be allowed to charge a full range of user fees? If not, what restrictions will be placed on their ability to collect fees? How much, if any, of the user fees will managers be allowed to keep? Will they get to keep a share of gross revenue or net revenue? Will they get to keep all or a fractional percentage of gross or net revenue?
Will the funds be dedicated to particular uses, such as the resources that generated them, or will they go into an open bucket, meaning that the forest can spend them however it likes? Will a percentage of the funds be set aside for a special purpose such as non-market stewardship activities or other public goods?
Will the pilot forest get any funds from taxpayers through Congressional appropriations? Will those funds be dedicated to particular line items or in an open bucket?
If the forest is to be funded out of its receipts, will there be a transition period between current appropriations and full funding out of receipts? Several of the pilots, for example, seeded the forests with a one-year budget and then phased out that budget over two or three years.
If the forest is to be funded out of its receipts, will there be a safety net to insure that the forest will always have some minimum level of funding?
Think through these decisions carefully, as budgeting issues can be confusing. It is particularly important to consider the incentives created by various budgeting alternatives.
You may decide differently, particularly if you have one forest in mind as your pilot. You may feel that conservation biology, "New Forestry," traditional clearcutting, holistic range management, or some other practice or combination of practices should be a part of your pilot.