Breath of Clarity

Comment #2 on Managing “Multiple Stressors” in a Dynamic Forest Management Era

Original Post by Genevieve Brune:

The model of “multiple-use, sustained yield” management calls for the US Forest Service (USFS) to ensure the long-term use of renewable resources while best meeting the needs of the public (USFS n.d.). While this is a good idea, this type of management becomes much more complicated when resource managers are fighting off multiple stressors, which could include wildfires, pests, climate change, and land use. To make it even worse, the different land uses and deforestation of resources can worsen the stressors (Ellison et al. 2017, 52). In the case of the Rocky Mountains, managers are dealing with “tree-killing insects, wildfires, and heat and drought” (Funk et al. 2014, 1). This issue is getting even worse due to human-caused climate change, making the lands hotter and drier. In one study, it showed that there was a “73 percent increase in the annual number of large wildfires in the region from 1984 to 2011” (Funk et al. 2014, 3). Climate change goes beyond creating an ideal wildfire scenario, as it also leads to worsening insect infestations. For example, in the Rocky Mountains, the drier conditions have left trees weaker and the warmer winters have led to higher bark beetle populations (Funk et al. 2014, 1). This combination has led to an increase of bark beetle outbreaks and more trees falling in Colorado, as well as other Western states (Funk et al. 2014, 1). Because of all of this, it complicates how the USFS plans for sustainable use of resources for the public’s needs. Managing the stressors and the reduced resources makes it more difficult for plan for sustainable use.

The impacts of climate change and other multiple stressors does not affect just one region or area; it spans across the United States and the rest of the world. Because of this, it is not enough to just rely on one group to solve the issues. Federal agencies, like the USFS, who are dealing with these issues are likely to include a multitude of stakeholders in their planning and management efforts. Some of these communities that USFS would engage with include other federal agencies, and state and local governments (Funk et al. 2014, 4). When it comes to dealing with resources, tribal nations and private resource companies, like logging companies, would also likely be added to the mix. Engaging stakeholders and doing more outreach has the potential to both help and harm the forest management efforts of today. Including all of these different stakeholders calls for extensive coordination and answering to many different interests and missions. This complicated collaboration could lead to timeline delays, lawsuits, or more. On the other hand, including more stakeholders could provide different perspectives and encourage creative solutions to the complex problems caused by climate change (Funk et al. 3). Additionally, studies have shown that when it comes to agency-led fire management techniques, the public’s level of acceptance is dependent on how much trust they have for the personnel, along with familiarity with the practices (Moritz et al. 2014, 62). In order to gain more support and trust from the public, it is really important for agencies to make an effort to broaden stakeholder inclusion and outreach. It is also important to note what we learned in the discussions last week about private companies and how they can be a big factor in management plans due to existing leases or permits. The USFS should work with them in bringing more resources in and by discussing more ways of mitigating potential impacts of resource use.


Funk, Jason et al. 2014. “Rocky Mountain Forests at Risk: Confronting Climate-driven Impacts from Insects, Wildfires, Heat, and Drought.” Cambridge, MA: Union of Concerned Scientists.

Moritz, Max, et al. 2014. “Learning to coexist with wildfires.” Nature 515: 58-66.

Ellison, David et al., 2017. “Trees, forests and water: Cool insights for a hot world.” Global Environmental Change 43: 51-61

US Forest Service. N.d. “Understanding Laws that Impact Public Lands.” US Department of Agriculture.

My Comment:
Hi Genevieve,

Excellent job conveying the role the U.S. Forest Service plays in carrying out multiple-use, sustained yield management.

The organic statutes for the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management direct each agency to manage lands under its jurisdiction in accordance with nearly identical multiple use, sustained yield mandates (Glicksman 2014). Like the dominant use agencies, the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service, the multiple use agencies are required to identify lands suitable for preservation as wilderness and must manage lands designated by Congress as wilderness pursuant to the Wilderness Act (Glicksman 2014). Although the Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management are subject to parallel statutory regimes, wilderness preservation practices in national forests and on public lands have diverged (Glicksman 2014). A greater percentage of national forests are protected as wilderness, and the Forest Service generally has been more receptive to wilderness preservation than the Bureau of Land Management (Glicksman 2014). It is interesting to consider whether the divergence is due to differences in the physical characteristics of the two land systems, agency culture and organization, agency management policies and procedures, or perhaps even judicial treatment.