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Title: Public perceptions of west-side forests: improving visual impact assessments and designing thinnings and harvests for scenic integrity

Author: Ribe, Robert G.;

Date: 2013

Source: In: Anderson, P.D.; Ronnenberg, K.L., eds. Density management in the 21st century: west side story. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-880. Portland, OR: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station: 22–37.

Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)

   Note: This article is part of a larger document. View the larger document

Description: Perceptions of public forests’ acceptability can be infl uenced by aesthetic qualities, at both broad and project levels, aff ecting managers’ social license to act. Legal and methodological issues related to measuring and managing forest aesthetics in NEPA and NFMA decision-making are discussed. It is argued that conventional visual impact assessments—using descriptive pictorial qualities against a naturalistic scenery standard—have limitations as legal evidence, in addressing other popular aesthetic values, and helping public participation in planning processes. But such descriptive assessments do have merit: they are similarly perceived by diverse people, they describe landscape attributes that managers can manipulate, and they are strongly related to the public’s broad-trust perceptions of forests’ acceptability. Evidence-based guidelines are off ered for the production of scenic quality in Pacifi c Northwest west-side forests. These guidelines are derived from extensive studies of forests and perceptions in the region, and estimate and interpolate average public perceptions of average forest conditions. They inform in-stand perceptions related to forest density measurements and regeneration harvest prescriptions, of percent and pattern of tree retention, and of retained down wood. Other guidelines related to percent and pattern of retention and harvest unit design apply to vista views of harvests. Th ese guidelines can assist planners and managers in designing forest treatments, implementing wholesale forest plans to maintain broad-trust acceptability perceptions, more reliably meeting scenic integrity standards, and making more accurate visual impact assessments at regional and project scales.

Keywords: Forest visual impacts, scenery management, timber harvest design, social acceptability, public participation.

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Ribe, Robert G. 2013. Public perceptions of west-side forests: improving visual impact assessments and designing thinnings and harvests for scenic integrity. In: Anderson, P.D.; Ronnenberg, K.L., eds. Density management in the 21st century: west side story. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-880. Portland, OR: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station: 22–37.

 


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