Managing across levels of government: Evaluation of federal-state roles and responsibilities involving nonfederal forests in the United States

Paul V. Ellefson, Calder M. Hibbard, Michael A. Kilgore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


With the assistance of state foresters and federal agency executives, an evaluation was made of federal and state government roles and responsibilities focused nonfederal forests in the United States. The evaluation involved an inventory of legally (and administratively) defined federal roles, identification of federal programs supporting accomplishment of such roles, and assessment of the appropriateness of these roles and the effectiveness of supporting programs. Legal specification of federal roles occurs in myriad laws, rules, and planning documents, while nearly 190 federal programs represent actual expressions of federal roles. State foresters and federal agency executives favor federal roles that promote financial stability, technical competence, and coordination between states. From a state perspective, few (or no) restrictions on state discretion are an important consideration when judging the appropriateness of a federal role or program, while direct federal financial support is viewed as the most appropriate way of formally linking federal roles to state governments. Inadequate resources, cumbersome administrative process, and absence of a shared federal-state vision for nonfederal forests are important deterrents to effective federal-state working relationships.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)652-666
Number of pages15
JournalForest Policy and Economics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2006

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This review and evaluation was funded, in part, by State and Private Forestry, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.

Funding Information:
The connection between federal and state governments also takes many forms, the most common being project grants (31 percent of the recorded observations), followed by dissemination of technical information (18 percent of observations) and advisory services and counseling (11 percent) ( Table 2 ) ( General Services Administration, 2003 ). Project grant approaches were especially common to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (13 occurrences), of which the Invasive Species Program and the National Research Initiative Competitive Grants Program are examples. The dissemination of technical information was noteworthy to the Forest Service (for example, Urban and Community Forestry Program) and the EPA's Office of Water (for example, programs focusing on the Great Lakes Program and Chesapeake Bay).

Copyright 2010 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Federalism
  • Forestry programs
  • Government roles
  • Intergovernmental relations
  • Linkages
  • State-federal interface


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