Extension helps Oregon’s woodland owners manage their land

Master Woodland Manager Aaron White prepares to prune a Douglas-fir on his tree farm near Scio, Ore.

About 62,000 small woodland owners hold title to more than 4 million acres, or 42 percent, of the state’s private forestland. But most family forestland owners are not professional foresters, and many need help if they are to reach their goals of timber production, recreation, habitat and aesthetics.

To address those needs, the OSU Extension Service created the Master Woodland Manager program, which educates these owners on topics such as management planning, ecology and forest inventory methods. In return for instruction from professional foresters and topic experts, the trainees agree to volunteer the equivalent number of hours to share the knowledge they have gained with other small woodland owners.

Since its inception in 1983, more than 500 volunteers have completed the program. Trained Master Woodland Managers act as arms of their local extension agents.

“They are able to go out and make first contact with small woodland owners who have reached out to the Extension office looking for help,” said Tiffany Hopkins, a coordinator in the Forestry and Natural Resources Extension Program at Oregon State University.

The MWM meets the landowner on their property with resources, insight, and as a peer who understands the issues this person is facing. They also help with local tours, trainings, educational booths, citizen science and more.

“Oftentimes they become lifelong volunteers for OSU because they find the work they are doing so valuable,” Hopkins said.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020, the Basic Woodland Management course (a core curriculum) was converted to a remote format, turning 20 hours of classroom instruction and a five-hour field day into engaging online delivery.