Technical Management in an Age of Openness: The Political, Public, and Environmental Forest Ranger


  • Sarah E. Anderson,

  • Heather E. Hodges,

  • Terry L. Anderson


Modern bureaucracy faces trade-offs between public and congressional input and agency expertise. The U.S. Forest Service offers an opportunity to quantitatively analyze whether an agency that is required to be more open to the public and congressional input will be forced to ignore its technical expertise in managing resources. This study uses data on 83,000 hazardous fuels reduction activities conducted by the Forest Service from 2001 to 2011. Although the results show that managers are responsive to public and congressional considerations, this has not prevented them from utilizing their technical knowledge to restore lands most deviated from natural conditions. This suggests that managers can balance responsiveness to public and political principals with technically sound management.