The organizational arrangement that has guided the Seventh American Forest Congress since January 1995 will give way to a new structure as of July 1. The Forest Congress national meeting held in Washington, DC in February 1996, along with the individual input and the dozens of roundtables and collaborative meetings that preceded it, produced a vision and principles to help guide actions aimed at addressing the issues facing America's forests. The Final Report has now been produced (see document list), bringing to a close the first phase of the Forest Congress process. It is now time to address real, on-the-ground forest issues.
The new organizational structure is designed to initiate and sustain inclusive local and national civil dialogues that lead to implementation of natural resource decisions consistent with the vision of the Seventh American Forest Congress. A Legacy Committee composed of representatives of the national implementation committees, some members of the former Forest Congress Board of Directors, and individuals who participated in the February meeting will serve as the "Keepers of the Vision" by providing oversight, coordination, monitoring, and evaluation to local and national Forest Congress activities.
The Office of the Forest Congress will become the Forest Congress Information Center, which will track the activities of local groups and the national committees, and will report this information to interested parties through this newsletter, a homepage on the World Wide Web, and other means. The Forest Congress Information Center will work closely with a volunteer Communications Committee to see that important news of Forest Congress activities reaches relevant media outlets.
The final elements of the Forest Congress implementation phase structure are the five national implementation committees that have been formed to deal with the topical areas of Communities, Education, Management, Policy, and Research.
The Communities Committee will focus its attention on the interdependence between America's forests and the vitality of rural and urban communities. The committee will identify and highlight local initiatives that are successfully dealing with community-related forest issues. The committee will also coordinate post-Congress roundtable follow-up with the Forest Congress Information Center, as well as work with partnership and other community-based groups dealing with natural resource issues. For more information, contact committee chair Lynn Jungwirth, Watershed Research and Training Center, Hayfork, CA 96041. Phone: 916-628-4206. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Education Committee will focus its attention on improving the content of educational materials that deal with forest issues aimed at youth and the general public. A number of organizations will participate in this effort, including the North American Association of Environmental Educators, the American Forest Foundation (through its Project Learning Tree program), and the National Association of Professional Forestry Schools and Colleges. More information about the committee can be obtained from chair Dennis LeMaster, Department of Forestry, Purdue University, W. Lafayette, IN 47907. Phone: 317-494-3590. Email: email@example.com.
The Management Committee is being hosted by the Society of American Foresters and a steering committee for the first stage of the committee's work is being formed. For information, contact Bill Banzhaf, Executive Vice President, Society of American Foresters, 5400 Grosvenor Lane, Bethesda, MD 20814. Phone: 301-897-8720.Email:firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Policy Committee will monitor trends in forest policy at the state and national levels, and communicate it's findings to interested parties through the Forest Congress Information Center. The committee is exploring the idea of applying the Seventh American Forest Congress vision and principles to an actual national forest policy issue. The committee is also involved in developing stakeholder dialogues as a constructive tool for dealing with policy issues. The Pinchot Institute for Conservation is the host organization for the Policy Committee, and chair Perry Hagenstein can be reached at the Institute for Forest Analysis, Planning and Policy, Box 44, Wayland, MA 01778. Phone:508-358-2261. Email: email@example.com.
The Research Committee is forming a steering committee of about 30 people, with half being researchers and the other half being users of science-based information. The committee's first meeting will be in early fall 1996 in Portland, OR. Key questions include how to form a strong constituency voice from users of forest research, how to improve the funding base, and new organizational and institutional innovations that will increase the usefulness of research results. The Yale Forest Forum is hosting the committee and Bill Bentley is the chair (205 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT 06511. Phone:860-653-3195. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org).
After a review of the results of the Forest Congress, meeting attendees will hear three responses: one from SAF executive vice president Bill Banzhaf, one from industry, and one from the environmental community. The group will then address what actions they should initiate in individual states and the region, and the steps needed to avoid duplicating efforts. For more information, contact Brent Olson at 712-456-2924.
Consultative dialogue among forest stakeholders is a promising method for working out solutions to specific contentious issues. The Forest Congress Information Center has reports on a number of completed and ongoing dialogues. A summary of the recommendations that come out of the July meeting regarding the general outline for how to conduct dialogues and examples of issues that might be constructively addressed through this technique will be reported in an upcoming issue of Many Voices...A Common Vision.