Oklahoma Master Woodland Owner Program
Oklahoma’s Master Woodland Owner program is a “train-the-trainers” type of education program designed to produce knowledgeable forest landowner volunteers to assist in programs promoting sustainable forest management. The program is based on a Diffusion of Innovations concept in which adoption of new technologies and ideas (in this case sustainable forest management) is facilitated in communities by their initial adoption by community leaders. Such a program is designed for landowners who are vitally interested in adopting sustainable practices on their land, and who are willing to share knowledge of those practices with their neighbors in volunteer activities.
Program objectives are, first, to identify, through a nomination and screening process a cadre of opinion leading non-industrial private forestland (NIPF) owners who are willing to attend 10 educational sessions on advanced forest management at no cost, in exchange for agreeing to spend an equivalent amount of time (approx. 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 will be invited to enroll (several have already expressed an interest in participating). After participant identification, we will educational sessions on topics of forest and wildlife management for NIPF owners and county extension educators.
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 accomplished
Initial training began in April 1999, and was completed In June 2000. The training sessions included basic forest ecology, Forest Stewardship, forest management plans, timber sale administration, cost-share programs, pine and hardwood management, prescribed fire, tree identification, insect and disease identification and management, wildlife management, taxation and estate planning for landowners Contemporary forestry issues and conflict resolution, best management practices, erosion control and road construction. A “class reunion” with follow-up site visits is planned for early 2002. Demonstration areas and the direction of the program beyond grant expiration will be explored with the graduates along with other invited landowners and forestry professionals.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Graduates report 531 hours in diffusion activities relevant to sustainable forest management in the last year. These activities affected management on an estimated 2900 acres. Most of these were visits and consultation with landowning neighbors, but participation in landowner field days and State Fair exhibits also is reported. Several graduates are interested in developing demonstration areas featuring different aspects of good forest management, including low-input uneven age management and best management practices.