important to the American people (see Chapters 3 and 5). However, a clear and comprehensive national statement of policy concerning nonfederal-forest use, management, and protection does not exist. Segments of policy direction appear in hundreds of congressionally established environmental and natural resource laws, but the overall policy direction lacks clarity and consistency. Much more attention has been devoted to national policy for federally owned resource land, which, in nearly all cases, is guided by congressional policy (for example, by the National Forest Management Act, the National Wildlife Refuge System Administration Act, the National Wildlife Refuges, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, and the National Resource Lands). Clearly, national interest in federal lands deserves of a national policy, and equally important is national interest in nonfederal forests, an interest similarly deserving of a well-articulated statement of federal intent.
The lack of a cohesive national policy on nonfederal forests is a reflection of various conditions. Since the 1930s, attention to these forests has been directed primarily through the forestry community; these forests have not received widespread national attention, which might have led to a comprehensive policy concerning their use and management. Prolonged political battles over the future of National Forests have largely been responsible for displacing nonfederal forests from national policy-making agendas. Also contributing to the lack of national direction on nonfederal forests is the sparse and inconsistent information on nonfederal forests. The information needed to develop and articulate a national policy on nonfederal forests is inadequate. State and regional information exists, but when combined nationally, it results in an unclear picture of the nonfederal forest landscape.
A further deterrent to articulating a national policy on nonfederal forests has been the inability of existing strategic-planning processes to promote national interests in nonfederal forests. The planning process that offers the greatest potential for identifying nonfederal forests nationally is the Forest and Rangeland Renewable Resources Planning Act (RPA). Yet, nonfederal forests barely appear on the RPA program's agenda. The portion of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Forest Service's total costs for state and private expenditures (a major avenue for federal investment in nonfederal forests) is only 7.1 percent (1993) and is expected to increase to only 9.0 percent by 2045 (USDA) Forest Service 1995). These expenditures are not considered commensurate with the importance of the nonfederal forests.
Also detracting from the establishment of a national policy for nonfederal forests has been the lack of well articulated principles that might be part of a policy. Principles have been suggested, in several different forms and formats. The Seventh American Forest Congress sought to deal with the dilemma, suggesting a variety of principles that might be part of a comprehensive policy for the nation's forests (including nonfederal forests). The principles included: the area covered by forests should be maintained and, as appropriate, expanded; the