Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Environmental Studies Program


James R. Fleming

Second Advisor

F. Russell Cole


The Forest Service manages land for a diverse array of purposes under the Multiple Use Doctrine. Many of these uses are incompatible and lead to conflict The goal of my research is to explain what guides the Forest Service's management decisions, since this is critical to understanding how conflicts are resolved, .and uncover alternative approaches that better protect the environment.

In this paper, I present a brief history of the Forest Service's management over the past century. Particular attention is given to explaining trends in timber and recreation management. Following the historical presentation, I attempt to identify a set of guiding principles that has influenced the Forest Service's management decisions over the course of its existence. I conclude that historical trends in Forest Service management are best explained by the budget-maximization hypothesis. This political science theory suggests that bureaucracies pursue management objectives that allow them to maximize its budget. Four case studies are presented in support of my conclusion.

I finally discuss the implications of the budget-maximization management strategy and express concern that the Forest Service may be ill-equipped to uphold the nation's best interest. I suggest appropriate reforms, and conclude that the budgetary incentives of the Forest Service should be amended, revenues earned by timber harvest should be returned to the general treasury, and the personnel evaluation criteria be altered to provide greater incentives for environmental protection.


Budget-Maximizing, Forest Service, Money, Power