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.
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