The Consultant - 2007 - (Page 10)

FEATURE Parcelization: Different Owners, Different Practices BY MARK RICKENBACH ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR FOREST ECOLOGY AND MANAGEMENT UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON OREST PARCELIZATION, the subdivision of relatively large parcels into smaller ones, is reshaping private forestry in fundamental ways. The average parcel size in the United States is 37 acres, but some predict it will drop to 17 acres by 2010 (Sampson & DeCoster, 2000). As long understood by foresters, decreasing tract size reduces the economies of scale available to the owner and the likelihood of forest management. However, parcelization is as much about social change as it is about operational change (Rickenbach & Gobster, 2003). Much of the parcelization occurring is a result of a search for nature-based amenities and recreation. Primarily urban and suburban residents are moving to forested regions. This “exurbanization” brings new people and new ideas about forests and their use that have ripple effects throughout local communities and economies (Egan & Luloff, 2000). These individuals, over time, also will reshape the forest management and policy context. The purpose of this article is to describe how forest owners are changing and to explore the implications of these changes. I do this through a review of recent studies of forest owners in the Driftless Area of southwest Wisconsin. This area presents a crystal ball for other amenity-rich areas. The Driftless Area is a mixed agricultural and forested landscape with fast rivers and scenic topography that offers both recreational and aesthetic appeal. It has long been a haven for exurbanites from the nearby metropolitan areas of Chicago, Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, to its east and St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota, to its west. Given this long history of exurbanite influx, the Driftless Area provides a sense of how other areas with more recent influxes might look in the future. F Mark Rickenbach “EXURBAN” FOREST OWNERS Relatively recent arrivals to the Driftless Area are both similar to and different from their neighbors. They tend to share similar non-commodity reasons for forest ownership. There are few meaningful differences between engaged, active owners (as defined by membership in forest owner organizations), whether exurban or not. Such owners showed no difference in their reasons for ownership, the forestry practices they complete, or their willingness to coordinate forestry practices with their neighbors (Rickenbach, Guries & Schmoldt, 2006). The important differences were primarily between members of forest owner organizations and non-members. For example, members, whether exurban or not, were more likely than other forest owners to have thinned their forest or removed invasive species. Despite similarities in ownership objectives and management behaviors, exurban forest owners approach the process of management differently. In the Driftless Area, this difference is evident in the creation of the Sustainable Woods Cooperative (SWC), an initiative led primarily by exurban forest owners (Rickenbach, Zeuli & Sturgess-Cleek, 2005). Prior to joining SWC, members were beset by difficulties in managing their land that were similar to those of 10 THE CONSULTANT 2007

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Consultant - 2007

Executive Director’s Message Embracing Change
President’s Message Meeting the Challenge of the Fragmenting Forest
Forest Fragmentation
Parcelization: Different Owners, Different Practices
The New Generation of Private Forest Landowners: Brace for Change
Struggles Facing Wisconsin’s Professional Loggers
Saving Our Forests from a Fragmented Future
Selling the Business: Sequential Planning Versus Parallel Planning
A Survey of Consulting Forestry Education in Accredited Forestry Programs
Returning the American Chestnut to Our Forests
Woody Biomass for Energy – Has Its Time Come?
Meet the New ACF President
ACF Education Committee Looks to the Future
Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens Receives American Chestnut
Mississippi ACF/SAF Student Challenge
ACF National Conference Reflections
Harry Murphy: A Life in Consultation

The Consultant - 2007