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Constructing the public: the 'substantive sieve' and personal norms in US Forest Service Planning


  • S. Andrew Predmore
  • Marc Stern
  • Michael Mortimer


In fulfilling its public involvement requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) the US Forest Service sometimes favours scientific, technical or legally-based public input over comments that explicitly express the values or preferences of the public. We trace the roots of this tendency to the Council on Environmental Quality's (CEQ) NEPA regulations and to agency planning guidelines that direct agency employees to address only 'substantive' or 'significant' comments. We term this guidance and the tendency to favour certain types of public input the 'substantive sieve', and show how it may influence agency constructions of the public. We discuss the implications of our findings in the context of agency NEPA public involvement processes.

Suggested Citation

  • S. Andrew Predmore & Marc Stern & Michael Mortimer, 2011. "Constructing the public: the 'substantive sieve' and personal norms in US Forest Service Planning," Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 54(3), pages 403-419.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:jenpmg:v:54:y:2011:i:3:p:403-419
    DOI: 10.1080/09640568.2010.507981

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    Cited by:

    1. Buijs, Arjen & Lawrence, Anna, 2013. "Emotional conflicts in rational forestry: Towards a research agenda for understanding emotions in environmental conflicts," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 104-111.


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