An increasing number of United States Forest Service (USFS) initiatives highlight the improvement of local socioeconomic wellbeing and associated efforts to hire local contractors in forest restoration projects. Two relatively new USFS programs, the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration (CFLR) program and the USFS Cohesive Wildfire Strategy Program (CWSP) intend to improve local socioeconomic conditions. Yet the lack of clear direction associated with USFS local contracting has proven to be a barrier to success for many of the CFLRs and CWSPs. Additional, there isn’t consensus about what and who is actually considered to be “local” to a given project area, further impeding such objectives.
With USFS Pacific Southwest Region support, the Sierra Institute is examining the issue of defining local in the context of three CFLRs and two CWSPs. The Sierra Institute intends to use its findings to make recommendations to the USFS Pacific Southwest Region concerning both what is local within the context of these projects and what the best practices are to develop a definition of “local” elsewhere.
This project involves semi-structured interviews with project collaborative members and contractors, to capture community (including tribal and nontribal), environmental, agency, and industry perspectives on how to delineate “local” through the lens of contracting. We are also researching USFS contracting rules and mechanisms, as well as USFS contracting data for each of these case studies to understand what percent of contracts hare currently being captured locally.