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Mission Evolution: The United States Forest Service's Response to Crisis



After a long history as a bureaucratic success story, the United States Forest Service (USFS) found itself embroiled in crisis beginning in the late 1980s. This study examines the factors that led up to the crisis, arguing that the agency had become captured by its own core technologies. Historically, the USFS was successful in adapting to changes in its environment by employing its traditional management procedures. However, attempting to incorporate the northern spotted owl issue with its traditional core technologies threw the subsystem into crisis, during which the agency lost control over its management activities. Today, the USFS is attempting to adapt to the changes brought about by the political conflict of the era.