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The Clinton Administration, the Northwest Forest Conference, and Managing Conflict: When Talk and Structure Collide
Society & Natural Resources
  • Gregg B. Walker, Oregon State University
  • Steven E. Daniels, Utah State University
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Taylor & Francis
Management of the public forest lands in the Pacific Northwest is in crisis, caught between ecological and economic values, and the people who hold them. Recognizing this, presidential candidate Bill Clinton pledged in 1992 to hold a “timber summit”; early in his administration. The president honored that promise, chairing, along with Vice President Gore and four cabinet members, a day-long “Forest Conference”; in Portland, Oregon, on April 2, 1993. This article examines the Forest Conference as a conflict management effort. It provides a context for evaluating the Forest Conference as conflict management, and then outlines three basic dispute resolution approaches relevant to the conference: traditional public participation, arbitration, and multiparty collaboration. Application of these approaches reveals that President Clinton's “collaborative”; discourse could not be sustained by, and was inconsistent with, the arbitration-like structure of the conference. Clinton's “60-day pledge”; of action transformed the conflict situation into one of traditional public participation. The Clinton administration's discourse of collaboration could not overcome noncollaborative conference and planning structures, resulting in a conflict management opportunity lost.
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Citation Information
Walker, G.B. and S.E. Daniels. 1996. The Clinton administration, the Northwest Forest Conference, and conflict management: when talk and structure collide. Society and Natural Resources 9:77-91.