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ISSN: 0022-1201

Don C. Bragg

Current Issue

Volume 113, Number 2, March 2015
  • brief communication

    Forest Sector and Primary Forest Products Industry Contributions to the Economies of the Southern States: 2011 Update


    The following analysis provides an update on the southern forest sector economic activity following the downturn experienced in 2008-2009. The analysis was conducted using IMPLAN software and datasets for 2009 and 2011 and results from the USDA Forest Service Timber Products Output (TPO) latest survey of primary wood processing mills. Although improving economic conditions are reflected by increased mill roundwood consumption during 2011, forest industry's economic contribution improved slightly but not across all states. At the regional scale, the sector displayed a downward trend in employment, value added, and number of active primary mills.


    The information provided should assist forest landowners and policymakers assessing the forest products sector's economic growth and recovery following the latest recession of 2008-2009. The article reports the estimated economic contribution of forest product industries to the economies of the southern states, providing policymakers with valuable information to help guide future actions affecting the industry. Results indicate a slowly recovering industry with decreasing jobs and productivity (value added per worker) among most southern states. However, the latest survey of primary wood-using mills revealed increasing roundwood consumption, a positive sign to timberland owners.

  • research articles

    Payments for Ecosystem Services: Will a New Hook Net More Active Family Forest Owners?


    Payments for ecosystem services offer the potential to financially benefit landowners in exchange for active forest management. Given their nontimber focus, such payments might be particularly attractive to those owners who do not participate in typical forestry programs. To investigate, we surveyed "nonparticipating" Wisconsin landowners to assess their interest in possible payments for ecosystem services. Our design experimentally compared the effects of ecosystem service type (carbon storage, water, and wildlife) and program sponsorship (government and market) on landowner interest. We also tested the effects of increasing program requirements (no requirements, written plan, required practices, and required inspections). Findings indicate that 42% had some interest under no requirements. This portion dropped to 18% with requirements that resemble how payments might work in practice. Under "real-world" requirements, reliance on a forester in future decisions and the importance of a forest-based income were significant explanatory factors. Findings suggest that program requirements are key in shaping landowner willingness.


    Payments for ecosystem services offer the potential to increase the number of landowners who actively manage their woodlands. In seeking to understand what factors might explain the interest of Wisconsin landowners who do not participate in a forestry program, three implications emerged: 1. A substantial portion of landowners currently not in a forestry incentive program are potentially interested in payments for ecosystem services. Even when accounting for the "real-world" practices of such programs-written management plan, forestry practices, and inspections requirements-nearly one-fifth were somewhat or very likely to participate. 2. In developing payments for ecosystem services, landowners will focus on what they have to do, not what they are expected to produce (e.g., carbon storage, water quality, or others). Policymakers would do well to consult landowners, particularly those who do not currently participate in a separate program, to design programs that are conducive to the widest range of landowners. 3. Landowners having a forester as an "influential peer" were more open to pursuing a payment opportunity, as were those most interested in deriving income form their land. Such payments for ecosystem services could modestly expand active forest management, but other engagement strategies are still needed.


    Implications of Diameter Caps on Multiple Forest Resource Responses in the Context of the Four Forests Restoration Initiative: Results from the Forest Vegetation Simulator


    Meeting multiple resource objectives, such as increasing resilience to climate change, while simultaneously increasing watershed health, conserving biodiversity, protecting old-growth, reducing the risk of catastrophic wildfire, and promoting ecosystem health, is paramount to landscape restoration. Central to public land management efforts in the West is the widespread adoption of size-prohibited cutting of "large" trees, a limitation referred to as a "diameter cap." In this study, we used the most commonly proposed prescription for the Four Forest Restoration Initiative in northern Arizona to explore the implications of diameter caps for multiple resource responses through the use of model simulations. We found that implementing progressively smaller caps in southwestern ponderosa pine may result in relatively similar live tree densities, canopy cover, and large snag densities but higher basal areas, mean tree size, torching indices, and scenic beauty with lower water yield and herbaceous production. When diameter cap scenarios are compared, tradeoffs exist, and no single metric is suited for overall scenario evaluation.


    Meeting multiple resource objectives is paramount to large, landscape-scale forest restoration projects. This is particularly evident as the Four Forest Restoration Initiative, the nation's largest Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration project, makes plans to accelerate restoration of northern Arizona's ponderosa pine forests. Central to public land management efforts in the western United States has been the debate around potential loss of large trees, resulting in widespread adoption of size-prohibited cutting ("diameter caps"). In this study, we explored the implications of diameter caps on multiple resources through model simulations under a wide range of possible diameter caps (12-30 in.). Using the Forest Vegetation Simulator, we found that application of small diameter caps commonly resulted in increased biomass availability yet did not achieve reductions in crown fire hazard or increases in understory production. In addition, application of smaller caps shortens treatment longevity, placing a larger importance on maintenance, and adversely affects fire managers' ability to utilize prescribed fire or offset treatment costs with product revenues. When diameter cap scenarios are compared, tradeoffs exist, and the inability of a single metric to evaluate "success" is further decreased by social and political values, which further limits public land managers' ability to integrate management alternatives.

    social sciences

    Barriers and Supports to Entering a Natural Resource Career: Perspectives of Culturally Diverse Recent Hires


    Many natural resource professionals are reaching retirement and attracting young adults to fill the resulting vacancies may prove difficult. Unfortunately, a lack of theoretical exploration of career choices leaves the field without theoretically based methods for recruitment and retention of young adults. Therefore, this exploratory study aims to contribute to research on natural resource career choice by examining supports and barriers encountered throughout career development. Supports and barriers that influenced the early careers of recent hires at the US Fish and Wildlife Service were examined through the lens of the social cognitive career theory. Twenty-two culturally diverse recent hires were interviewed using semistructured, open-ended interviews. Interviewees discussed specific barriers and supports affecting young adults pursuing natural resource careers. Unique barriers and supports perceived by white males and underrepresented groups highlighted the need to design recruitment and retention techniques for specific target populations. By carefully designing support systems for young adults and underrepresented groups, agencies can help them overcome barriers.


    Barriers encountered by recent hires fit into four categories: financial, institutional, social and familial, and discrimination. Lack of knowledge about careers was the most mentioned barrier. Natural resource agencies and organizations may want to focus efforts on early and extensive advertisement of career options, which should extend through high school, college, and graduate school. Underrepresented groups perceived more barriers, particularly social and familial barriers, to pursuing a natural resource career. Therefore, natural resource organizations potentially need to educate not only young adults but also families about career options. In addition, when trying to attract underrepresented groups, natural resource agencies may want to reach out to organizations that focus on underrepresented groups in natural resources, such as Minorities in Agriculture and Nature Resource Related Sciences. Supports to career pursuit fit into four categories: social support, instrumental assistance, role models and mentors, and financial resources. White males and underrepresented individuals emphasized the importance of supervisors as instrumental assistance and role models. Thus, supervisors in natural resource organizations agencies may benefit from mentorship training opportunities. Recent hires discussed the importance of early work experience and paid internships. Natural resource agencies may be able to increase recruitment by creating innovative ways to provide early field experience, while continuing to offer paid internships and volunteer opportunities.

  • practice of forestry
    education & communication

    Integration of Forestry Research and Extension in an Online Graduate Course


    Despite calls for integrated education from the literature and federal granting agencies, some forestry faculty and students prefer to cultivate specific disciplinary expertise. A regional grant-funded project fostering integrated research, however, enabled a climate of experimentation among the participating faculty who created an interdisciplinary distance graduate course focused on climate change, research supporting forest management, and stakeholder communication in the southeastern United States. The two-credit seminar-style course was offered for 2 years and was required of the masters and doctoral students from nine universities that were funded by the project. Student evaluations and faculty reflection from the 1st year were used to improve the course for a second offering, including reducing the amount of readings, requiring levels of participation for a grade, and further developing assignment instructions. Evaluations from both years suggested that the course format was valuable and the assignments engaged students in better understanding disciplines outside their own and applying research to meet stakeholder needs. The course successfully introduced the project and launched students toward integrated research. Useful aspects of the course can be duplicated by the forestry faculty from one institution who wish to create an interdisciplinary issue-focused course or by a regional team from several institutions through an online platform. A variety of strategies can be used to help prepare students to contribute to resolving complex, interdisciplinary societal issues.


    Graduate education in forestry should prepare students for a range of future endeavors including research and should give them the tools necessary to understand and communicate complex societal issues. Such issues require a diversity of perspectives and probably disciplines to fully comprehend the problems and potential solutions. Whereas deep expertise is needed to address complex issues, so too is the ability to communicate with those who do not share that expertise. Creating a graduate program that offers opportunities to develop both expertise and an ability to communicate with those from other disciplines is essential. A graduate course is one strategy to introduce students to a variety of disciplines that contribute to an issue, to explore possible topics for integrated research, and to gain communication skills. Such courses can help prepare graduates to engage in management challenges and in forming policy solutions.

  • review article
    harvesting & utilization

    Human-Centric Approaches to the Study of Forest Operations: A Review and Integration of Organizational Science Research Areas


    Prior research has shed important light on a variety of factors associated with timber harvesting efficiency and costs. However, the understandings that have resulted from this work have mostly focused on nonoperator factors, such as stand and tract conditions, machine types and configurations, and other technology-based aspects. The intent of this article is to help expand research on forest operations to include more explicit focus on operator factors that influence harvesting efficiency and costs. To accomplish this goal, we review several research areas in the organizational sciences (knowledge-based perspectives, motivation, and team effectiveness), discuss their relevance to forest operations, and list a number of important future research questions.


    This article reviews several research areas from the organizational sciences to provide a framework for investigating and improving our knowledge about factors that explain operator influence on timber harvesting efficiency. Given that prior research suggests that operator-specific factors account for 30 -50% of the variance in timber harvesting production, the research approach advocated in this article has the potential to yield substantial insights that can be used by operations foresters to improve efficiency and reduce costs. Drawing on prior research from the organizational sciences, this article suggests that practitioners can positively influence operator performance through mentoring programs, informal social interactions, production goals, payment and incentive programs, and equipment cross-training.

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