From Gridlocked Conflict to Compromised Policy Reform, 1969-1976
The Nixon administration came into office in 1969 at the beginning of a major period of controversy over forest management. In some cases Nixon exacerbated contention with his actions, while at other times his administration simply found itself caught in the crossfires of opposing interest groups. Growing public opposition to clearcutting, increasing litigation by environmentalists, continuing logging pressure from the timber industry, lumber supply anxieties, and congressional gridlock climaxed in the mid-1970s with the enactment of two major laws that completely recast Forest Service statutory authority: the 1974 Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act (RPA) and the 1976 National Forest Management Act (NFMA). The former was an ambitious but ineffective attempt to achieve better integration of resource planning with budgeting. Building on the agency's previous history with multiple use planning, RPA required the Forest Service to develop comprehensive long-range multiple use management plans, updated every five years (subsequently called RPA Programs accompanied by a description of funds necessary to implement the plans. Remarkably, this law also directed the executive branch to submit a budget request consistent with the Forest Service's RPA driven budget or else explain in detail why its budget deviated from the agency's. As with other Forest Service long-range plans, the flurry of attention following each RPA Program helped improve the relative balance of funding somewhat for a year or two, but then the status quo generally returned.
The National Forest Management Act of 1976 continued this emphasis on long-range planning but mandated individual forest plans to supplement