Management misalignments: environmental change, regulatory mandates, and divergent expectations in forest landscapes

Authors: Jeffrey Jenkins*, University of California - Merced
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Cultural and Political Ecology, Mountain Environments
Keywords: public lands, Sierra Nevada, natural resource management, socio-ecological complexity, forests
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Diplomat Room, Omni, West
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Forest landscapes are a product of complex environmental change - biophysical histories, systemic climatic change, proximate impacts, uncertain or incomplete ways of knowing - cognitive biases, heuristics, epistemological frames, and land management policies and their prevailing outcomes - regulatory mandates, agency enaction, and land user nonadherence (Millar, et al., 2007; Salwasser, 2004). The Sierra Nevada, like with forest systems throughout North America, continues to be shaped by ecological, socio-economic, and political factors such as large-scale tree mortality, community economic reliance on ecotourism, and competing adaptive management and pro-growth narratives. In this way, the new to old West “ecotransformation” (Duane, 1999) is necessarily a landscape-level, albeit uneven, phenomenon where individual land use activities, rights to access, and perceptions of environmental change are collectively constructed, confronted and addressed vis-à-vis politics as “bundles of rights” (Walker and Fortmann, 2003). This study draws from ongoing research in the southern Sierra Nevada to further theorize dynamics which have contributed to management misalignments between landscape and land users in forest communities. These cases include: the regulatory reckoning between agencies managing the John Muir Trail for solitude and non-intervention as part of the Wilderness Act and the increasingly connected and amenity-driven expectations of its user group; the patchwork of private inholdings and surrounding lands at Giant Sequoia National Monument and the divergent mandate of the multiple use forest; and questions of alignment between land user preferences for functional resiliency and visual aesthetics of forests livelihoods to gauge “buy-in” for state-level climate adaptation policies (AB 2480, SB 379).

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