STEW-MAP: Mapping the New York City land stewardship network

This morning I had the chance to talk with Erika Svendsen and Lindsay Campbell, both with the US Forest Service New York City Urban Field Station. They were kind enough to allow me to record about a 12-minute overview of their project. The narrated slideshow is below.

The project is fascinating. As they explain, the Stew-MAP process allows them to begin to map not only the geographic / physical stewardship landscape, but also the social landscape. Check it out.

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Gerry Mich and the Wisconsin Woodland Advocate program

Yesterday I listened in on Gerry Mich’s webinar about the Wisconsin Woodland Advocate program.  The program is built around a simple but compelling idea:  organizing active, well informed woodland to help their neighbors connect with trusted local natural resources professionals.

Woodland Advocates’ job is not to deliver forestry advice–that’s the work of professionals–but rather to deliver basic information and recommend trusted professionals.  This approach builds on a foundation of trust among peers. Some landowners are more comfortable talking to peers than professionals, at least early on.  The model seems to be working:  100% of landowners contacted by an advocate were either happy or very happy with their experience.

The program is also attractive to foresters.  By making the initial contact and collecting basic information about the land and landowner’s objectives, the volunteers allow the forester to focus on their strengths and hit the ground running when they start working with the new landowner with whom the volunteer has put them in contact.

Gerry’s done a nice job of streamlining the program and avoiding duplication of effort.  Woodland Advocates are recruited from one of Wisconsin’s two excellent woodland owner and leader training programs, Master Woodland Steward and the Woodland Leadership Institute.  That leaves the work of volunteer training and confidence-building to Extension, allowing Gerry to focus on community connections.

The downside of a model like this is finding a way to fund it.  Gerry’s been quite successful securing grant funding for program development and operations over the past few  years, and they’re funded, although only at half of previous levels, through this year.  As Gerry noted in his talk yesterday, this is a tough time to find funding, and it can be hard to fund ongoing, as opposed to new, projects.

Gerry’s been resourceful in the past, and I look forward to watching this program evolve.  To learn more about Woodland Advocate, drop Gerry a line.  His contact info is here.

Gerry’s webinar was organized by the National Network of Forest Practitioners.

Woodland owner interviews in Oregon

MWM image (a href=Amanda and I are just back from a great trip to interview woodland owners in Oregon.  We ventured out there to learn more about Oregon State’s Master Woodland Manager program.  (All of a sudden I can’t believe that we didn’t take any photos.)

We spent four days in west-central Oregon talking to program participants.  We wanted to know more about how they got involved in the program, what they’d learned from other woodland owners, and how they’d been able to help other woodland owners since their training.

It’ll take us a while to transcribe and analyze what we heard, but interviewees were consistently upbeat and positive about the program.  They told us compelling stories about their experiences and the sense of pride that they feel when they’re able not only to improve their woods, but also help others improve theirs.

We also heard some concerns:  Some MWMs felt unsure how to handle some awkward outreach situations.  We also heard concerns about the quality of information being passed through the network.

This trip is part of our case study investigation of the role of peer-to-peer woodland owner outreach in the broader network of private forest owner education, cost-share, and assistance programs.  We plan to visit participants in a few different kinds of programs over the next several months.