Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Master of Science (MS)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Peter F. Kolb

Commitee Members

David Patterson, John Goodburn, Norma Nickerson


Conservation, Education, Family forests, Stewardship, Tree Farm


University of Montana


Family Forest landowners, also known as Non-Industrial Private Forests (NIPF) are subject to much scrutiny by public agencies because they own the majority of forested lands across the United States and because it is difficult to quantify what they are doing with their lands. Significant federal money is allocated for family forest assistance in the form of educational grants and cost-share for specific conservation objectives. Montana State University Extension Forestry’s Montana Forest Stewardship program is a federally funded educational program that has helped forest landowners learn about and develop both short-term action plans and long-term management plans for their properties for 21 years. This project examined the short-term and long-term impacts that the Forest Stewardship program has on landowner awareness, core beliefs and management actions with regard to their forest. The short-term component of this project compares responses of workshop participants before and after workshops. The long-term component compares members of participants of Forest Stewardship, Tree Farm, and a group without affiliation with either Stewardship or Tree Farm. Mail surveys, phone interviews, and property visit survey’s were compared and analyzed in order to estimate landowners core values and forest conservation/management perspectives with and without the influence of the Stewardship program and the additional non-profit Tree Farm mentoring/educational programs. Results indicated most family forest owners had similar core values but significantly different management priorities when considering forest generated revenue, selling parcels of land for management and ownership, and management challenges. It is likely that some of these differences where due to participation in the Stewardship and Tree Farm programs, but forest acreage owned also was significantly correlated to management priorities. Our study indicates a clear and substantial increase in conservation value from landowner topic awareness programming such as the Stewardship program as well as values from forest landowner organizations such as the Tree Farm program. It was also clearly shown that the majority of all forest landowners in Montana have strong conservation values for their lands, however, their management objectives vary considerably and thus one-size fits all expectations for family forest lands may be counterproductive.



© Copyright 2012 Cynthia Ann Bertek