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Using quasi-experimental methods, we find that the environmental effects of decentralization reforms depend on how the reforms affect the conditions for user groups to govern their forests. Our findings show that decentralization to general-purpose governments may be most effective in places where forest users take advantage of opportunities to engage with local politicians about forestry issues.

Awarded to the article "When Cooperative Federalism Isn't: How US Federal Interagency Contradictions Impede Effective Wetland Management." The award is given to the best article in Publius during the last calendar year.