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Abstract

This paper argues that state trust land management experience is potentially a source of valuable insights and examples for the U.S. Forest Service. The paper sketches historic and current trends in public resource administration to define what constitutes useful new ideas which might aid the agency in its present crisis. In spite of being this nation's oldest approach to public resource management, the state trust lands are an appropriate source of new ideas in an era in which, the paper suggests: (1) the courts are receding as a major source of executive accountability, (2) the legitimacy of federal agencies, particularly those whose authority is rooted in science, is declining, and (3) the institutional framework for public resource management is rapidly fragmenting and diversifying. The Forest Service could fruitfully explore (1) the trust standard of prudence, particularly requirements for trustee accountability and record keeping; (2) the role of the beneficiary in trust accountability and constituency building; (3) the state trust manager's adaptation of the trust notion of a portfolio and risk management; and (4) state trust land agency's different approaches to tying program funding to income without eliminating the legislature's role in appropriations. The trust mandate as embodied in western trust land management organizations also provides (5) examples of institutional flexibility that could be instructive to the agency in this new era of partnerships, and (6) a raft of experience doing the same thing the Forest Service does (e.g., leasing grazing and minerals) which ought to inform Forest Service consideration of alternative management tools.

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