Stakeholder Engagement and Monitoring & Evaluation in Adaptive Management (AM): A Case Study of the Spruce Beetle Epidemic Aspen Decline Management Response (SBEADMR) of the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, & Gunnison (GMUG) National Forest Unit in Western Colorado

Authors: Jordan Truitt*, University of Colorado Denver, Rafael Moreno Sanchez, University of Colorado Denver, Clay Speas, USDA Forest Service, Peter Anthamatten, University of Colorado Denver
Topics: Coupled Human and Natural Systems, Natural Resources, Mountain Environments
Keywords: forest, adaptive management, stakeholder engagement, monitoring, evaluation
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/11/2021
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:15 AM
Room: Virtual 26
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

For over a decade, the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre, and Gunnison (GMUG) national forests unit in western Colorado has been experiencing Sudden Aspen Decline (SAD) and a spruce beetle outbreak. In response, the USDA Forest Service started to scope the Spruce Beetle Epidemic & Aspen Decline Management Response (SBEADMR) program in 2013 and it was finally implemented in 2016. The purpose of SBEADMR is to enhance the resiliency, recovery, and public safety of the GMUG landscape through an Adaptive Management (AM) framework over 8-12 years. AM is a structured and iterative process of learning by doing and adapting based on what is learned to reduce uncertainty. Scholarship states that stakeholder engagement and Monitoring & Evaluation (M&E) are essential components for facilitating effective AM. This paper critically analyzes these two aspects of the SBEADMR program to determine their strengths and impediments. A literature review provided information on the good practices and common challenges and pitfalls when conducting stakeholder engagement and monitoring in AM. To learn about the details of the SBEADMR program, interviews were conducted with the coordinator and one of their scientists, attending their annual mid-winter meeting, and reviewing literature and presentations that touched on the SBEADMR stakeholder engagement and M&E processes. The findings conclude that although SBEADMR has some areas for improvement regarding their stakeholder engagement and monitoring, there are many strengths regarding the two aspects of the program. The results of this research can inform managers and policy-makers on areas where improvements in their AM efforts can be made.

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