Client: U.S.D.A. Forest Service, Chugach National Forest
Location: Southcentral Alaska
Project Date: 2012 - present
Project Lead: Shelly Wade
As an early adopter of the federally mandated “New Planning Rule”, the United States Forest Service began a Forest Plan Revision for the Chugach National Forest. During Phase One, the Forest Service assessment current ecological, economic and social conditions and trends related to the Forest and Southcentral Alaska. The Forest Service contracted with Agnew::Beck to lead the public engagement process, a key feature of the New Planning Rule. The goal of Phase One, and the work to date, is to introduce the process and solicit feedback on use and trends that the public has observed over the past decade. The resulting assessment report provides a solid base of current information for Phase Two, drafting the revised plan and developing an environmental impact statement (EIS), and Phase Three, developing a monitoring strategy.
Agnew::Beck designed a two pronged process – a set of public forums and targeted outreach to specific stakeholder groups. To begin the process, Agnew::Beck designed and facilitated nine public forums in communities around the Forest. Attendance varied from eight participants in Moose Pass to 50 participants in Valdez, with an average of 20 to 30 participants in each of the nine communities. The participants then split into groups of five to ten people to discuss the topics and then report back to the larger group. Agnew::Beck facilitated at times heated discussion on the value of motorized access to the Forest. Agnew::Beck worked with the Forest Service to reach stakeholders in appropriate venues. For instance, Agnew::Beck designed and facilitated a youth engagement series in the classrooms, which served to teach young people about the Chugach National Forest, as well as garner their input on the way they use the Forest and trends they have seen. Agnew::Beck and the Forest Service have returned to the communities two additional times to share results of the assessment, outreach to date, and next steps for plan revision as part of an iterative plan revision strategy.