The dispute resolution process provides a path for receiving and addressing stakeholder and public comments, input, or criticism regarding state forest management. An open and transparent working environment for both employees and the public is paramount to the Division of Forestry. Inevitably, there will be differences, and these procedures provide a conduit for new ideas and opportunities to be presented to the division.
Types of Disputes
Generally there are two types of disputes on state forests. One is a general comment when an individual simply would like to provide input or feedback to the appropriate manager. The second type of dispute is when there are philosophical differences in management strategies or practices that are being implemented.
- Informational Input Example: A horse rider thinks a trail has eroded to the point where it is an environmental and safety issue and they want someone to know. The individual is not necessarily seeking a written response, just an acknowledgement that the information was received.
- Management Dispute Example: The individual is seeking a desired change and a formalized process to voice their opinion and seek action, such as disagreement with a management practice or policy.
Informational Disputes: In order to resolve general comments and input provided to the Division of Forestry, the individual provides verbal or written input directly to the forest manager. The forest manager must acknowledge, in writing, that the information was received and the action(s) taken, or provide the reason the situation may or may not be addressed. The forest manager must also complete the attached Resolution Request Form to be submitted with all monthly reporting information. Copies of the written response should be attached to the form.
Management Disputes: In order to resolve more substantial disputes over the management of Ohio State Forests, the individuals seeking a desired change will be asked to participate by filling out a Resolution Request Form:
- The resolution request should be filed in writing to the forest manager. The individual must state the concern, the reasoning for their conflict, and the expected changes or resolution to the perceived conflict.
- Within ten (10) working days the forest manager will schedule a meeting with the district manager to review the filed conflict and draft a response to the dispute. The response will describe actions to be taken, the time frame for completion, and the justification(s) for the actions taken; or if no action is taken, the justification must be explained in detail. The forest manager must complete the attached resolution request form and attach it to the correspondence and forward it to the district with the monthly reports. The district supervisor will answer the dispute in writing.
If the group/individual is not satisfied with the resolution, an appeal may be filed with the Division of Forestry Integration Committee and the Chief of the Division. The appeal must be filed in timely fashion of receiving the dispute resolution letter and the appeal will be filed with the Chief of the Division of Forestry. The Integration Committee will schedule an appeal hearing at the next scheduled quarterly meeting. Meeting dates are the first Tuesday of the beginning of each quarter.
The appellant may be asked to participate in the meeting and/or to provide evidence and reasoning for their dispute and the expected outcome. Within ten (10) working days of the appeal meeting, the Chief of the Division of Forestry will issue a final resolution to the dispute. The final resolution will explain all actions or lack of actions taken and the associated reasoning.
The Division of Forestry Integration Committee – This committee is composed of Program Administrators, District Managers, the Assistant Chief and the Chief of the Ohio Division of Forestry.