2nd Century cover

Build-Your-Own-Pilot Kit

The Forest Options Group is presenting the Second Century report as a draft for public consideration. The group would appreciate receiving your comments on the report by July 1, 1998. You can use the comment form or write your own response of any length.

Mail comments to:

Forest Options Group
14417 S.E. Laurie
Oak Grove, Oregon 97267
Or email to fog@ti.org.

As a part of your comments, you may want to design your own pilot. This "pilot construction kit," including the form, will help you do so. Designing a pilot consists of making important decisions about each of four parts of national forest policy: the mission, governance, funding, and on-the-ground management.

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?


The Forest Options Group decided not to write a mission statement for any of the pilots for three reasons. Nevertheless, you may wish to write a mission statement for your pilot. This statement should briefly describe the goals and objectives of national forest management under your pilot.


The Forest Options Group reviewed a number of different governance structures, only some of which ended up in the five pilots. Here are some governance structures you may want to consider.

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 third governance structure would be to let a non-profit organization (or possibly a for-profit organization) manage the forest. You might want to allow non-profit groups to submit proposals to manage an entire forest as a pilot and have the secretary of agriculture select one or two of those proposals.

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.


To design your pilot, you will have to make some very important decisions about funding and budgeting. Here are some of the possibilities.

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.

On-the-Ground Management

The Forest Options Group decided not to prescribe any on-the-ground management practices or plans, partly because a consensus would be difficult and partly because national forests are so diverse that any one prescription would probably not apply to all of the forests.

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.

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