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ISSN: 0022-1201

Don C. Bragg

Current Issue

Volume 112, Number 2, March 2014
  • editor's note
  • research articles

    Effectiveness of Landowner Assistance Activities: An Examination of the USDA Forest Service's Forest Stewardship Program


    The USDA Forest Service's Forest Stewardship Program (FSP) is the nation's most prominent private forestry assistance program. We examined the FSP using a multiple analytic approach: analysis of annual FSP accomplishments, survey of state FSP coordinators, analytic comparison of family forest owners receiving and not receiving forestry practice assistance, and focus groups with family forest owners. We found the FSP reaches a small fraction of eligible landowners; states use FSP funds to address local private forestland issues; landowners obtaining assistance commonly associated with the FSP (e.g., management plans) differ from others in sociodemographics, ownership objectives, and land management actions but not in terms of intent to sell/subdivide forestland; and traditional FSP activities are not influencing inactive family forest owners to become active managers. We believe current practices (e.g., state-level flexibility) help the FSP reach its goals, alternative assistance-related efforts may increase the reach of the FSP and support strategic goals, and data collection improvements may enrich future FSP evaluations.


    The FSP reaches a substantial but small subset of NIPF owners, typically focusing on providing management plans, technical assistance, and advice. No evidence indicates that these activities influence inactive landowners to become active nor do these activities appear to influence land-use-related decisions (e.g., selling or subdividing land). Assisted landowners have stronger associations with past and future forest management practices (e.g., timber harvesting) than unassisted landowners, regardless of how assistance is defined, suggesting resource-intensive management plan assistance may be less efficient. Maintaining state-level flexibility and continuing to evolve the concept of Important Forest Resource Areas (IFRAs) to address critical forest resource needs will likely help FSP to better meet state needs and harness state-level creativity to develop effective assistance strategies. FSP reach might be expanded by encouraging diversification of assistance activities and shifting focus away from resource-intensive activities. Emphasizing opportunities to keep forests from permanent conversion will support one of the FSP's strategic goal. Improving data collection through performing quality control, establishing landowner case files for all assistance activities, and implementing uniform IFRA definitions would benefit future FSP assessments. Allocation metrics can be refined to further support FSP goals by rewarding all activities that provide technical assistance and educational opportunities to landowners and efforts targeting IFRAs, unengaged landowners, and/or long-term stewardship.

    Design and Governance of Multiparty Monitoring under the USDA Forest Service's Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program


    Project-level monitoring is a necessary component of forest restoration and has historically been neglected. The 2009 Forest Landscape Restoration Act, which created the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP), authorizes funding for collaboratively designed restoration projects on US National Forests. It is the only statute requiring that the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service conduct project-level monitoring, specifically requiring collaboratively designed and implemented multiparty monitoring for 15 years after a CFLRP project begins. We conducted research to understand the design of these monitoring programs, their purposes, and their associated governance structures. Our goal was to investigate how this innovative aspect of the CFLRP is proceeding in the early years of the program and to set the stage for longitudinal research on this aspect of the CFLRP. We conducted and systematically analyzed semistructured interviews with 45 participants, including federal and nonfederal partners, from the first 10 CFLRP projects. We found that monitoring programs are being designed for a variety of purposes, such as tracking ecological impacts, maintaining trust with stakeholders, supporting "adaptive" planning documents meant to cover multiple years of treatment, and "telling the story" of these projects in terms of social and economic impacts to communities. Governance structures include formal roles and responsibilities for participants but lack formal processes for incorporating monitoring data into long-term project planning. Major challenges relate to the timing requirements of the CFLRP legislation, a lack of capacity among all parties in terms of time and expertise, navigation of the distinction between research and monitoring, and the design of adaptive planning documents to cover activities for multiple years over large landscapes.


    Monitoring the effects of forest management activities requires funding and expertise. Monitoring is a foundational aspect of three policies for managing National Forest System lands: administrative regulations for implementing the National Forest Management Act (also known as the "planning rule"), projects using Stewardship End-Result Contracting authorities, and the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) projects. The CFLRP is unique among these in its requirements and funding mechanisms for project-level, multiparty monitoring. This makes the CFLRP an incubator and opportunity for managers and partners alike to experiment with and learn how to develop successful monitoring and adaptive management programs. The CFLRP monitoring programs are being designed in some cases to track ecological impacts, but in other cases, the emphasis is on building the social and political support necessary to implement long-term restoration programs. Thus, monitoring can be a useful tool for reducing uncertainty, involving stakeholders, building agreement around restoration approaches, and/or garnering political support by showing the value of restoration for local communities. Governance strategies of the CFLRP projects often do not include formal mechanisms for using the results of monitoring information to inform future rounds of planning; improved attention to using the results of monitoring to inform future project planning will make it more likely that adaptive management and learning take place. Land managers are navigating the important distinction between research and monitoring, by recognizing that monitoring, even when it is scientifically robust, ultimately is focused on the efficacy of specific treatments in light of project objectives. These multiparty monitoring efforts have faced challenges, such as limited time and expertise. At the same time, the CFLRP promotes the sharing of knowledge and responsibilities among agencies and other partners, making the program a possible venue for advancing the practices of monitoring and adaptive management for forest restoration.


    Using Traditional Ecological Knowledge as a Basis for Targeted Forest Inventories: Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera) in the US Great Lakes Region


    Traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) has been proposed as a basis for enhanced understanding of ecological systems and their management. TEK also can contribute to targeted inventories of resources not included in standard mensuration. We discuss the results of a cooperative effort between the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) and USDA Forest Service's Forest Inventory and Analysis Program (FIA). At the urging of member tribes, GLIFWC staff worked with tribal gatherers to document TEK regarding desired characteristics of birch bark for traditional uses and translated this into an inventory field guide. The guide was provided to FIA, which incorporated the methods into its field manual and trained inventory crews in implementation of the protocol. Birch bark data were collected during three field seasons from 2004 to 2006. Results show birch bark supply has declined. Lessons learned from this multiyear, multistage project provide a model for future targeted inventory efforts.


    Forest products like specialty woods for musical instruments and materials for crafts have important economic and cultural value. However, extensive inventories typically cannot assess supplies of these resources. Combining traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and mensuration science can address such shortfalls and provide a basis for policy and management. Integrating TEK and Western science is best accomplished through an iterative process in which all parties respectfully share information and adapt the protocol as lessons are learned. A partnership of the Great Lakes Indian Fish & Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) and USDA Forest Service to design a targeted inventory for paper birch (B. papyrifera) bark in the US Great Lakes region offers a model of how this can be accomplished for targeted inventories. Results from 3 years of data collection on birch bark, combined with standard inventory data, show declines in the resource. Silvicultural practices designed to increase number, size, and age of paper birch trees, especially in northern hardwood stands, could enhance future supplies of birch bark. More immediately, artisans can be invited to harvest birch bark before timber harvests through contacts with tribal natural resource departments and intertribal organizations. Done properly, birch bark can be removed from standing live trees without causing mortality and skilled individuals also may be invited to harvest bark from forests where no cutting is planned.


    Challenges and Motivations behind Sustaining a Volunteer-Based Forest Management Organization: A Case Study of the Southeastern Illinois Prescribed Burn Association


    Fire frequency far below historic norms is threatening eastern oak ecosystem integrity. Increasingly, private family forest landowners are interested in using prescribed fire as a tool for maintaining oak dominance and associated wildlife habitat and wildfire protection. The Southeastern Illinois Prescribed Burn Association (SIPBA) empowers landowners to apply prescribed burning as a management tool. Prescribed fire use is consistent with the established land ethic expressed by members and serves as a means of modeling the practice for nonmember neighbors. SIPBA members regard dependence on outside funding as a limit to both the capacity and, potentially, the sustainability of this novel cooperative land management organization.


    • Owners of private lands presently dominated by upland oak forests within southeastern Illinois are aware of the deteriorating condition of their stands due in part to the long-standing absence of fire as an ecosystem driver. Landowners' desire to restore fire has been hampered by the lack of means to safely conduct prescribed burns.
    • PBAs are member driven and enable individual private landowners to address prescribed burning on their own terms, thereby avoiding trust issues associated with public land management agency-driven management initiatives.
    • Members view the loss of funding as a primary threat to the sustainability of PBAs.
    • Formal coordination with public land management agencies could increase efficiency of existing funding while strengthening cooperation and trust between public agencies and local communities.
    • The organization may also serve as a model for family forest landowners seeking to cooperatively address emerging management challenges, including forest pest and invasive species issues.

    social sciences

    Understanding Public Support for Forest Management and Economic Development Options after a Mountain Pine Beetle Outbreak


    Little is known about public attitudes toward management of forests after major disturbances. Mail surveys (n = 231) and in-depth telephone interviews (n = 36) with Grand County, Colorado, residents revealed that support for active forest management and economic development options was relatively high, concerns about impacts from the outbreak were mostly moderate, except those regarding wildfire and falling trees, which were high, and attitudes toward land managers and community leaders were generally negative. Concern, gender, and political orientation were significant predictors of support for management options, although different variables explained attitudes about different options. Interviews illustrated the complexity of attitudes toward management by revealing competing concerns related to the outbreak and forest management. Specifically, citizens generally supported postoutbreak management to reduce social and ecological impacts from the outbreak, but they were wary of the possibility of further negative social/ecological impacts resulting from further disturbance. This study reveals the importance of managers addressing people's concerns about both the disturbance and subsequent management actions when making postdisturbance management decisions.


    Grand County residents are concerned about the social and ecological impacts from a MPB outbreak that occurred between 1995 and 2008, especially from wildfires, and support for forest management and economic development is generally high. Support for selective thinning, niche uses, and biofuel was predicted by perceptions of the social impacts of the MPB outbreak, suggesting that social concerns are important to address when support for forest management on public land is garnered. Support for clearcuts and controlled burns was not predicted by concerns about impacts from the outbreak or attitudes toward managers and leaders, so educating people about the ecological or social impacts of outbreaks may have little effect on support for such actions. Nevertheless, it is vital that land managers and community leaders work with the public in decisionmaking, because the details of each option (e.g., cost, location, extent, risks, and benefits) have an impact on public support. People do not want postoutbreak management options to create negative impacts beyond those arising directly from the outbreak. Managers and community leaders should take advantage of the opportunity to engage with the public to balance concerns about specific management options, concerns about the outbreak, and preferences for the structure of future forests as they develop plans and policies.

    Mindful and Self-Compassionate Leadership Development: Preliminary Discussions with Wildland Fire Managers


    Decisionmaking in wildland firefighting is an evolving, dynamic reflection of a complex array of social and environmental factors that managers are expected to handle with fewer resources than in past eras. The need for new and effective ways of developing the capabilities to handle these factors is paramount. Seven focus group interviews with wildland fire managers (N = 39) throughout the western United States were conducted to assess the meaning and utility of two potential tools that could aid in this development-mindfulness (Kabat-Zinn 1990) and self-compassion (Neff 2003). Individuals who integrate these processes in their lives have been found to maintain and build important personal resources. Managers in this study best resonated with the concepts of mindfulness and self-compassion through four main methods of relating them to personal fire experiences that offer guidance to other managers. They saw value in training fire personnel to use these tools with caution toward self-compassion.


    Effective decisionmaking is dependent on handling multiple complexities in the social and physical environment. As manager responsibilities continue to increase in both intricacy and number with fewer resources, a need for developing personal skills and capabilities to successfully grapple with these complexities has become apparent. Two tools-mindfulness and self-compassion-have been shown to aid individuals in dealing with major life stressors and complexities (e.g., unexpected events, social conflict, fatigue, physical ailments, problem solving, etc.) across a variety of disciplines. By understanding the potential value of these tools in wildland fire by exploring why they are important and what their presence looks like in decisionmaking, managers can begin to appreciate the value and understand how to develop their own internal capacities through mindfulness and self-compassion. Through discussions with managers, four methods were identified as being important to developing effective decisionmaking in wildland fire, and the future potential of integrating mindfulness and self-compassion is realized.

  • Picture the Past

    Logger's Dream


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