Photo: Forest scene

The Northern Forest Dialogue Project

As the economic value of forested lands dramatically increased in the 1980s, large areas of forest in New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine were sold for non-forest use. Such a substantive change in land use promised to elicit a range of vocal opinions, so Congress funded a public process from 1990 to 1994 that brought together stakeholders from the four states, along with the US Forest Service.

One of those stakeholders was Charles Neibling of the New Hampshire Timberland Owners’ Association. In 1992, he commented that, while the public process was important, he thought the key stakeholders should also encounter each other in a different setting.

Organizational consultant Grady McGonagill and practitioner Maggie Herzig of Essential Partners (then the Public Conversations Project) began working with a steering committee to coordinate multiple private meetings and retreats to build the relationships that would serve as a foundation to the formal public process.

Read more about this project at The Atavist.