Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper

Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name

Environmental Studies

Department or School/College

Environmental Studies Program

Committee Chair

Len Broberg

Commitee Members

Dan Spencer, Laurie Yung


adaptive management, affecting land management decision making, benefits of monitoring, collaboration, conservation monitoring, monitoring, monitoring and assessment, multiparty monitoring, multi-party monitoring, partnerships, traditional ecological know


University of Montana


It is generally recognized that in order to make informed federal land management decisions, such decisions need to be based on information gathered from monitoring of those lands. While some monitoring is being conducted by federal land management agencies, it is happening too infrequently and is often inadequate for properly informing land management decisions. In an attempt to fill this gap non-agency groups have begun monitoring federal public lands themselves. It appears that through recent congressional authorizations, policy reforms, and agency initiatives monitoring by non-agency groups is being supported at every government level. While theoretically this transfer of responsibility from the federal agencies to non-agency groups looks good on paper in reality there are considerable barriers. This has many groups gathering data that ends up never being used in the decision making process. Despite this barrier, however, non-agency groups continue to monitor while the topic itself garners increased attention. As it stands, our understanding of how non-agency monitoring can affect land management decision making is seen as fairly black and white; data from monitoring is either used by the agency to make decisions or it is not. This study suggests that such a view of monitoring by non-agency groups is too narrow. The values associated with monitoring on federal public lands can be seen as having an internal or external benefit. Internal benefits, such as engaging youth or leveraging funding, are those that primarily only affect the monitoring group. External benefits, such as filling in gaps of agency monitoring or informing adaptive management within the agency, are those that may lead to either directly or indirectly influencing land management decision making. Ultimately, directly influencing federal land management decision making is difficult and may be out of reach for many non-agency groups. However those benefits that affect the group itself may be easier to achieve and could act as a starting point for groups wanting to start monitoring. Over time external benefits can be realized such as building relationships with agency staff, building public support, or informing NEPA reports that can lead to indirectly influencing federal land management decision making. Furthermore, there are differences between how single-interest groups and multi-interest groups value monitoring. Combined, these insights can assist groups in focusing their monitoring goals in order to increase the longevity and success of monitoring activity.



© Copyright 2013 Aaron Richard Olsen