Cooperative to aid family forest owners, manufacturers


CORVALLIS - A new cooperative called the Family Forest Products Education and Marketing Project has been created to help support Oregon's family forest lands and forest products businesses.

The group was formed by Oregon State University, the Northwest Wood Products Association and the Oregon Small Woodlands Association. It hopes to use education and outreach efforts to help owners stay committed to forest stewardship, enhance the productive potential and profitability of forest lands, generate more fiber from underutilized wood species, expand markets, create jobs, and build a new infrastructure to accomplish these goals.

"Some woodland owners often do not consider the range of opportunities available through active management," said Scott Reed, leader of the Extension Forestry Program in the OSU College of Forestry. "We hope that one or more pilot tests of this concept will demonstrate how owners can work together in ways that will improve their return on investments in forest land ownership, and also serve the manufacturing sector and create new jobs."

Mike Gaudern, executive director of the Oregon Small Woodlands Association, said that according to a recent poll, Oregonians want to see a balance between social, economic and environmental aspects of forest land in Oregon. All three are needed across the landscape, he said.

"As a group, family forest land owners can help deliver this balance," Gaudern said. "Our members manage for a variety of benefits. One may be focusing primarily on harvesting and replanting, another on wildlife and a third on removing juniper to help protect a watershed. But a common theme is the need of a steady economic cornerstone on which to base their activities."

If members of a cooperative can market a range of forest products directly to people who wish to support this type of balanced management approach, everyone can benefit, Gaudern said.

"You could buy a carbon credit, logs or mushrooms from family forests," he said. "The range of goods and services we offer society is endless."

In the new cooperative, OSU will focus on educational programs in such areas as harvesting, quality control, wildlife habitat, recreation and aesthetics, timber and non-timber forest products, and transportation of products to markets. The Oregon Small Woodlands Association will try to identify local needs of family landowners, including collection and management of data from more than 2,500 of its members.

And the Northwest Wood Products Association will handle overall administration of the project, including assistance with processing, finished goods inventory, marketing and financing.

The cooperative also plans to work with small woodland owners to more effectively ensure a steady supply of forest products that will be able to sustain mills and wood products manufacturers in economically viable operations.