Oklahoma’s Master Woodland Owner program is a “train-the-trainers” program designed to address NIPF issues by producing knowledgeable forest landowner volunteers to help deliver programs promoting sustainable forest management. Initial training began in April 1999, and was completed in June 2000. Training sessions included basic forest ecology, forest health, best management practices, pine and hardwood management, taxation and estate planning. Graduates report over 1000 volunteer hours since graduation, with practices adopted on an estimated 2900 acres. Plans for the future include developing demonstration areas featuring different aspects of good forest management, including low-input uneven age management and best management practices.
Program objectives were, first, to identify, through a nomination and screening process a cadre of opinion leading non-industrial private forestland (NIPF) owners who were willing to attend 10 educational sessions on advanced forest management at no cost, in exchange for agreeing to spend an equivalent amount of time (about 100 hours) in forestry and wildlife management diffusion activities in their communities. Also, county extension educators with an interest in forestry and/or wildlife management were invited to enroll.
Creation of an array of scientifically based forest management demonstration sites on NIPF lands throughout eastern Oklahoma by participating NIPF owners is also an objective. Such sites can then be used by professional foresters, extension educators and opinion-leading landowners as outdoor instructional sites for other NIPF owners, youth, and the general public. We expect that each individual will, at a minimum, perform in-kind outreach activities (tv/radio appearances, article writing, assuming community leadership positions on local boards, creating demonstration sites and holding demonstration field days) equivalent to the number of hours (100) that person spent in the Master Woodland Owner (MWO) training program. Monitoring of forest management practices adopted, diffusion activities and time spent in such activities, number of people impacted, and acres impacted will be continued beyond the completion of SARE funding.
Over seven million acres, about 16 percent, of Oklahoma’s 44 million acres are forested, with almost five million acres classified as capable of commercial production. Non-industrial private forestland owners (NIPF) own about two-thirds of this timberland, followed by industry with 21% and public lands at about 13%. In all, there are approximately 138,000 non-industrial private forest landowners in Oklahoma.
Non-industrial private forestland owners are quite diverse in background, philosophy, and forest management objectives. Many of these landowners are absentee, resulting in a critical lack of day-to-day oversight and a loss of management continuity. While many landowners have only minimal contact with the resource, an even greater number have yet to develop forest and resource management plans for the property under their control. This lack of directed planning often results in landowner’s not managing forest-related resources in a sustainable fashion. Management without regard to sustainability often leads to serious environmental damage as well as significant economic loss. To add to the need for forest sustainability, the public demand for wood products, wildlife, watershed protection, recreation, carbon sequestration and other forest benefits continues to increase. It is imperative that landowners be educated in the concepts of sustainability and then adopt the practices that provide for sound forest stewardship.
Lewis, D. K and Goodier, J. P. 1990. The South’s Fourth Forest: Oklahoma. Agricultural Experiment Station, Division of Agriculture, Oklahoma State University. Publication MP-130, 96pp.
Rosson, J. F. Jr. 2001. Forest Resources of East Oklahoma, 1993. USDA Forest Service. Southern Research Station, Resource Bulletin SRS-58, 75pp.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
Landowners having Stewardship plans and County Extension Educators were solicited by direct mail, TV, radio and email. Tribal environmental officials also were contacted. Twenty-five landowners, tribal representatives and Extension educators responded. Thirteen landowners attended the minimum number of training sessions (7) required for certification.
Each person attending the second training received an extensive collection of literature to serve as a reference library in sustainable forest management. A total of 10 initial training sessions were held in 1999 – 2000, with a follow-up training/class reunion/evaluation in 2002 .
The training sessions were:
April 27-28, 1999. Timber Utilization Conference in Wagoner, OK. MWO activities emphasized Landowners session, including agency services to landowners.
June 25-26, 1999. Integrated Pest Management and Tree Identification workshop in Sallisaw, OK.
uly 29-30 1999. Conflict Resolution/ Communication and Contemporary Forest Issues workshop in Stillwater, OK.
September 22-23, 1999. Hardwood Management workshop in Sallisaw, OK.
October 21-22, 1999. Best Management Practices and Stream Ecology workshop in McAlester and Daisy (State BMP demonstration area), OK.
December 14-15, 1999. Pine Management workshop in Broken Bow, OK.
February, 2000. Wildlife Management and Prescribed Fire. Pushmataha Wildlife Demonstration Area, Clayton, OK.
April 4-6, 2000. Taxes and Estate Planning for forest landowners, Stillwater, OK.
April 26-28, 2000. Timber Utilization Conference in Wagoner, OK. Emphasis for MWO participants was increased familiarity with wood utilization and the forest products industry.
June 29-30, 2000. Alternative Enterprises for Forest Landowners, Wagoner, OK. Final training before graduation and certification. Graduates received a sign for display on their property and business cards.
uly 14-15, 2002. Responsible and Safe Use of Herbicides and Recreational Leasing, Idabel, OK. Class reunion and follow-up evaluation.
Outreach and Publications
A presentation on the program is planned May 13, 2003 at the Extension Forestry Triennial meeting to be held in Asheville, NC.
Ross, W.G. and McKinley, C. R. 2001. Oklahoma’s forestry programs for landowners: Looking after a valuable Oklahoma resource. Forest Landowner 60(3): 32-34. Master Woodland Owner program discussed in context of other landowner programs.
Evaluation by Robert Heinemann, Ph.D. student
An Evaluation of Oklahoma’s First Master Woodland Owners Program
Timber production grosses over 64 million dollars annually in Oklahoma making it the state’s third largest agricultural crop. The single greatest potential to increase timber yields and timber generated revenue in Oklahoma lies on increasing production on the non-industrial private forestlands (NIPF). It is estimated that Oklahoma could increase its timber yield by 70 million cubic feet through the implementation of forest management practices on NIPF lands.
The NIPF are a large group of landowners with a wide range of desires and goals for their land. Even though the goals of the NIPF are wide ranging, most are interested in generating some type of revenue from their land. The NIPFs in Oklahoma are under served in regards to educational programs and timber management information. This, in turn, leads to a large area of land that is desperately under managed with regard to timber production. Most NIPF lack the technical knowledge necessary to maximize profits from their land. This is attributed to their wide range of backgrounds, education levels, and not having formal training in forest management.
The Oklahoma State University (OSU) Forestry Extension Service’s State Extension Forester, Dr. William Ross, has implemented several programs directed toward educating the Oklahoma NIPFs on the value of their land and good timber management, The Master Woodlands Owner Program (MWO) being one such program.
Dr. William Ross, Dr. Kathleen Kelsey, and Mr. Robert Heinemann, as part of the S.A.R.E. grant, are evaluating the impact of Oklahoma’s first MWO on the participants in the program. The research questions of interest are as follows:
Pre-Program Research Questions
What is the general knowledge level of leaders in the Oklahoma NIPF community in regards to forest management practices?
What is the general knowledge level of leaders in the Oklahoma NIPF community concerning forestry related issues (wildlife, water quality, landscape aesthetics, and recreation)?
Post-Program Research Questions
What is the authentic educational gain of the program participants with respect to forest management practices?
What is the authentic educational gain of program participants with respect to related land management issues, such as wildlife, water quality, landscape aesthetics and recreation?
Participant Follow-through Research Questions
Are program graduates successful in landowner recruiting for future MWO programs?
Do program graduates function as an information base for other forest landowners?
Do program graduates become involved in forest policy issues?
The level of authentic learning, which occurred among the participants, was assessed upon completion of the program. A post-program interview was administered, to each participant of the MWO program, covering all of the research questions of interest. All interviews were audio taped for a permanent record for future reference. Each oral interview was transcribed for correctional analysis of authentic learning among participants.
In addition to the written survey, several participants were chosen at random and an onsite visit and tour of their respective property was arranged. Pictorial records and written notes were taken of the land tours to document actual land management practices implemented by the respective landowners since their completion of the MWO.
The results of the surveys are currently under analysis but definite trends are surfacing in the analysis.
Knowledge level and implementation of forest management practices was low prior to participation in the MWO and increased as a result of the program.
Knowledge level and implementation of wildlife, water quality, landscape aesthetics, and recreation management practices was low prior to participation in the MWO and increased as a result of the program.
MWO graduates have limited success as a mechanism of recruitment for future MWO programs.
MWO graduates are functioning as lay educators in their community but their effectiveness is varied.
MWO graduates have had no impact on forest policy issues in the state or local community.
Analysis of the data is on going and results will be used to aid in the development of future Master Woodland Owners Programs for Oklahoma as well as other OSU Forestry extension program. In addition to the results of the research aiding in future development of programs, a refereed journal article and a Ph.D. dissertation will be written from information generated from the project.
Graduates report over 1000 volunteer hours spent in diffusion activities with landowners, youth and the general public relevant to sustainable forest management. Most of the activities were field visits and consultations with woodland owning neighbors. Two graduates donated a week each to assist in delivering a Youth Forestry and Wildlife Camp to a total of 130 teens interested in sustainable resource management.. Several are offering their own lands for demonstration. Over 2900 acres are estimated to have been affected by adoption of sustainable forest practices.
Program directed toward woodland owners. Woodland management is somewhat different from production farming in that sustainable practices may not bear economic fruit for years, even decades. All MWO graduates report adoption and advocacy in their communities of sustainable forest management practices. Long-term management planning remains the most pressing need. An additional barrier to sustainable woodland management is the fact that many of the private woodlands have been poorly managed. Implementing sustainable practices requires corrective as well as proactive measures.
A regional core curriculum in natural resources for Extension Educators is needed and is being developed. Woodland owners who deal with Extension educators in other agricultural matters are not receiving adequate information about sustainable woodland management as an integrated part of their farming operation.