Coordinating forest management across thousands of nonindustrial private forest (NIPF) owners is a difficult yet necessary task for state land management agencies. Voluntary Incentive Programs (VIPs) can coordinate the decentralized activities of these owners in return for services or financial incentives. However, many VIPs typically have low enrollment. Our study investigates the implementation of VIPs to increase forest management coordination among NIPFs in Michigan. We present findings from 20 semi-structured interviews with leaders of state and local land management organizations, and government officials at state natural resource agencies, and contrast their answers with those recorded from 37 interviews of NIPF owners regarding their knowledge and attitudes toward VIPs. Our interviews highlight a critical disconnect between NIPF owner motivations and VIP incentives, as well as misallocated resources for VIP promotion by state agencies, driving low enrollment. At the core, low enrollment in VIPs is generated by inadequate communication between NIPF owners and program managers, along with distrust of government agency objectives. Viewing managers as “street level bureaucrats”, civil servants whose job discretion is impacted heavily by available resources, may increase our understanding of the issues plaguing VIPs and help identify improvements to VIP design and implementation.
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Rouleau, Mark. D.; Lind-Riehl, Jennifer F.; Smith, Miranda N.; and Mayer, Audrey L., "Failure to communicate: Inefficiencies in voluntary incentive programs for private forest owners in Michigan" (2016). School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science Publications. 6.