“We must never forget the human and the economic dimensions of these problems.”
- Federal Ecosystem Management Assessment Team, Mission Statement, 1993
In the early 1990s, forest-associated communities in the Pacific Northwest, still struggling with the legacy of recession and industry consolidation in the 1980s, were met with new restrictions for cutting timber on federal lands. Concerns about the possible social and economic impacts of federal forest management on these communities led to monitoring requirements in the Record of Decision for the Northwest Forest Plan, framed as two questions:
- Are predictable levels of timber and non-timber resources available and being produced?
- Are communities and economies experiencing positive or negative changes that may be associated with federal forest management?
The key objectives of the monitoring program are to identify communities experiencing significant positive or negative conditions or trends, as well as those that are not, and to improve understanding of the relationship between federal forest management and social and economic change.
To address the objectives above, the monitoring program analyzes trends in data for timber harvest, special forest products, livestock grazing, mineral extraction, and recreation. Social and economic indicators derived from U.S. census data, analysis of quantitative data from agency databases, and interviews conducted in four sample case-study areas were part of the research program for the Northwest Forest Plan Ten Year Monitoring Report.