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Review of the Rural Technology Initiative
College of Forest Resources
University of Washington

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Cover Letter

United States Department of
Agriculture
Cooperative State
Research, Education,
and Extension Service
Washington, DC
20250

October 16, 2003

 

Professor Bruce Lippke
Director, Rural Technology Initiative
College of Forest Resources
123 A Anderson, Box 352100
Seattle, WA 98 195-2 100

Dear Professor Lippke:

Enclosed are three bound copies of the final report of the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service's (CSREES) program review of the Rural Technology Initiative (RTI) at the University of Washington/Washington State University. This report represents the aggregate input and view of the Review Team and is consistent with the oral exit report. An additional, unbound copy of the report is provided for your convenience. I hope the recommendations and discussions contained in this report will be useful as you deliberate the future of the RTI.

CSREES would like to have a response to this report approximately one year after the review. The post-review response should describe the extent to which the review process and team recommendations have been of value to enhancing the excellence of the RTI. Also, it would be helpful to CSREES if you would identify specific positive outcomes or changes which were implemented because of this review. While I recognize that it may be impractical to implement all recommendations, it will be useful to have your comments as we evaluate the impact of CSREES activities, particularly leadership for on-site institutional reviews.

CSREES and the Review Team compliment you, other RTI administrators, University of Washington and Washington State University faculty, staff, and students for their cooperation and hospitality while they were on campus. The Review Team was appreciative of the excellent preparation for the review. It was evident that significant effort was invested in the review preparation and this investment was highly valued.

Most importantly, the Review Team was respectful and complimentary of the open candor established for the review. That candor set the stage for frank discussions throughout the review and, as a result, we believe the review to have been an open and honest process.

Professor Bruce Lippke

Should you have questions or comments please feel free to contact us.

Sincerely,

Daniel E. Kugler
Deputy Administrator
Natural Resources and Environment

cc: Dr. Keith Blatner
Dr. Donald Hanley
Mr. Charles Krebs
Team Members


 

Review of
The Rural Technology Initiative
College of Forest Resources
University of Washington

 

By

 


Cooperative State Research, Education,
and Extension Service
U.S. Department of Agriculture

 

 


September 2OO3

 

 

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Cover Letter
1. Foreword
           Reason for the Review
           Review Objectives
           Commendations
2. Background
           RTI Operation
           Findings
           Technology Transfer
3. Long-Term Programmatic Sustainability
           Funding
           Evaluation
           Advisory Board/Audiences
4. Conclusion
5. Appendix

 

FOREWORD

The review of the Rural Technology Initiative (RTI) at the University of Washington was conducted at the invitation of the administration of the College of Forest Resources, University of Washington (UW) and the Department of Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University (WSU). The review was requested for the purpose of gaining external insight and input to the operation of the RTI and to address the sustainability of the RTI. It is anticipated that the review team's report identifying strengths, challenges, and recommendations will receive strong consideration by RTI Administrators (UW and WSU) in addressing changes to the mission, goals, and objectives identified in various planning documents.

The Review Team used challenges, issues, and resource needs identified by RTI administrators, faculty, other departmental leaders, cooperators and stakeholders to complete this report. Responses to the review charge and in the September 16 - 19,2003 meetings with UW and WSU administration are incorporated in this report. Information regarding academic policy, political insights, and administrative overview at the opening of the review process was critical to the work of the Review Team.

Based on their professional disciplinary experience, credibility, knowledge and familiarity with research, education, and outreach programs in university systems, and with the USDA Forest Service's programs and funding authorities the Universities in cooperation with USDA's Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service selected the following professionals to conduct this comprehensive review:

Mr. Mike Barsotti
Program Manager
Forestry Assistance Program
Oregon Department of Forestry
2600 State Street
Salem, Oregon 973 10
503-945-7385
mbarsottiodf.state.or.us
Mr. Larry Biles, Team Leader
Forestry Program Leader
USDA - CSREES
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Mail Stop 2210
Washington, DC 20250 - 2210
202-401-4926
Ibilescsrees.usda.gov
Dr. Steven Daniels, Director
Western Rural Development Center
Utah State University
8335 Old Main Hill
Logan, UT 84322-8335
435-797-9732
sdanielsext.usu.edu
Dr. James Finley
Extension Forestry Program Leader
The Pennsylvania State University
7 Ferguson Building
University Park, PA 16802-4302
814-863-0401
jfinleypsu.edu
Mr. John Gorman
Corporate Forester
Simpson Resource Company
1301 5' Avenue, Suite 2800
Seattle, WA 98l01-26l3
206-224-5 187
jgormansimpson.com
Ms. Robin Morgan
Asst. Director, Forest Management
USDA - Forest Service
11 Campus Boulevard, Suite 200
New Town Square, PA 19073
610-557-4124
rmorganfs.fed.us
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The Review Team sincerely appreciated the enthusiastic support of the administration, faculty, project staff, cooperators and stakeholders of the College of Forestry at the University of Washington and the School of Natural Resource Sciences at Washington State University before and during this review. Without such support, assistance, interest, candor, and leadership it would have been impossible to provide this review report in a timely and orderly fashion. Special thanks go to RTI Director, Professor Bruce Lippke, RTI Principal Investigator, Dr. Donald Hanley, and RTI Staff Assistant, Ms. Nicole Stevens for their leadership in organizing and providing coordination for this review, and the cordial reception and assistance provided to the review team throughout the review process.

Reasons for the Review -The review of the RTI was prompted by the Universities' desire to have persons external to the operation examine the project for purposes of positioning the RTI to become even more valuable to the residents and natural resources of the State. Washington State's demographic, social, political, and economic conditions pose significant challenges for landowners, rural communities, higher education, and rural and urban natural resources. Consequently, this review of the RTI is timely and is anticipated to be valuable as the Universities continue to provide academic services to the citizens of Washington, the nation, and the world.

Review Objectives -The Review Team's charge, as expressed by the Universities, was to assess and provide comments central to the following issues:

  1. Has RTI made major contributions towards providing usable technology to rural forest managers?
  2. The degree to which these accomplishments are unique?
  3. Whether this model is appropriate to a broader regional constituency?
  4. What might be the best future alternatives including considerations for greater efficiency
    and reach?

To address the review objectives the following essential questions were suggested:

  1. Is the RTI program having a substantial positive impact on technology transfer to the benefit of forest-based rural communities and tribes?
  2. Does RTI's innovative approach to technology transfer result in new opportunities for integration of economic and environmental goals into forest management, processing, and environmental protection strategies?
  3. Was this impact unique to the existence/approach of RTI and would not likely have occurred otherwise?

If the answers are yes:

  1. Is the model appropriate to a broader regional constituency And if so, a broadening of the Universities involved? (Potentially OSU, UI, UM?)
  2. How should it be funded to offer financial stability?

If the answers are negative or qualified:

  1. What are the lessons learned and how can they be applied to benefit rural communities
    and tribes?

Commendations:

The Review Team was highly complimentary of many facets of the RTI. First and foremost was the speed in which the RTI transitioned from a concept to a productive reality. Second was the speed in which the RTI began generating and transferring credible science-based forestry and other natural resources technology to a broad constituency. Third was the breadth of scientific technology in the RTI portfolio. Included in the mix is information pertinent to region specific forest growth and yield models, road layout and design including culvert selection and location, riparian area management, fire prevention thinnings, and non-industrial forest land owner - alternative management plan options for compliance with state forest and fish rules. Other commendations were the collegial spirit in the RTI leadership and faculty, the ability to leverage other fiscal resources in support of the RTI, their contemporary web page and fact sheets, and the overwhelming testimony by core constituents that "THE RTI OFFERS HOPE to long-term nonindustrial forest land management."

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BACKGROUND

RTI Operation

RTI focuses on forests, especially those forests held by small forest landowners. These owners, an estimated 90,000, collectively control approximately 4.2 million acres, principally at lower elevations. These forests contribute significantly to myriad forest related values, such as fish and wildlife habitat, water quality, aesthetics, timber supply, and recreation.

The RTI has a commendable record of productivity in meeting the needs of the private forest landowners, particularly in light of its recent formation. The stakeholder/constituents interviewed by the Review Team were universally enthusiastic about the level of innovation used by RTI to develop training aids and subsequently take science to stakeholders. They commented positively on the timeliness, quality, support, training, and topical emphases. They felt that RTI was perhaps the only organization that was using cutting edge technologies to demonstrate the impact of regulatory decisions on the profitability of forestland management. Moreover, they felt that RTI was unequaled in outreach activities from academic institution to end-user.

Since the essence of this project is technology transfer, it is crucial that the RTI staff remain vigilant to their outreach activities. This will likely require diligence against the dominant incentive of research universities to encourage people to make new models and approaches, while implicitly assuming that end users can somehow fend for themselves and successfully access and interpret the information they need to make informed decisions. For research faculty there is comparatively little prestige and reward in squeezing the last bit of technology transfer out of existing knowledge. But the benefit to land owners and rural communities comes more from effective technology transfer rather than from the continuous development of new models or the development of new theories. In short, it is technology transfer/extension that Congress has funded and this inherently requires an end user/customer-centered focus.

In summary, it appears that the RTI program is addressing contemporary forest management issues and is working well with many stakeholders. The program has apparently been effective in reaching many of the private forest owners, especially those who some might classify as innovators and early adopters. Understanding the audiences RTI serves strengthens the prioritization of projects, increases the value of the outputs and buys support for the process.

Findings:

Interviews with advisory committee members, family forest landowners, landowner organizations, foresters working with woodland owners, and staff members of elected officials consistently praised RTI for the quality, effectiveness, and timeliness of the products developed. Products that addressed the impacts of state forest practice regulations were most often mentioned as having an immediate and significant benefit to landowners in the management of their properties.

Strengths:

  • There is clear evidence that RTI delivers diverse programs, modifies programs to meet specific program needs, and cooperates in solving technology issues encountered in using their products.
  • The RTI staff recognizes the importance to share their products more broadly and is evaluating approaches for sharing their work in neighboring states.
  • The Initiative serves to enhance collaborative and cooperative relationships between the University of Washington and Washington State University research, extension, and administrative staffs.
  • Offering technology transfer tools such as the Landscape Management System (LMS) (cutting edge technology, at a number of different levels: silvicultural modeling, visualization techniques, non-timber benefits modules, etc.) and other models at no charge to interested users has greatly expanded the implementation of the LMS and stimulated local economies in impacted areas.
  • The reach of program delivery is greatly enhanced by linking with other educational institutions elsewhere in the region and across the country, and demonstrates the efficacy of the RTI as an effective pilot project.
  • Establishing an educational network with community colleges and Resource Conservation and Economic Development Districts (RC&EDDs) extends the outreach to an audience that would most likely not otherwise be reached.
  • Competencies and expertise of faculty and staff at UW and WSU attracts willing partners throughout academia as well as high caliber students. Today's students are tomorrow's leaders, and recent graduates have already become an effective part of the delivery mechanism in critical areas of technology development and implementation.
  • RTI collaborates closely with industrial and non-industrial forest landowner organizations.
  • Through a customer oriented business focus the RTI is responsive to advisory committee priorities.
  • The RTI program delivers information on appropriate subjects, identified from input from its advisory board and selected users of their products. Program content addresses riparian forest management, wildlife habitat, forest management approaches including forest thinning, fire risk assessment, regeneration, and insects and diseases.
  • The RTI Web page is notably better than many university-produced pages.
  • RTI is uniquely well situated to assist landowners through the alternative planning templates project. The templates may benefit a tremendous number of landowners and maintain the economic viability of forest management thereby mitigating the incentive for conversion of forestland, and the resulting loss of ecological benefits.
  • The impact that RTI had on the Road Maintenance and Abandonment Plan (RMAP) regulatory process has demonstrated that timely research-based analysis of regulatory impacts can have a constructive influence. This episode is a clear demonstration of the positive impact of the overall RTI strategy.

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Concerns:

  • The commitment to communicating the forest's importance to the social fabric of rural and urban communities warrants increased emphasis. This includes describing how communities benefit from the maintenance of healthy productive forests and the value of working together to solve local issues including larger landscape issues related to forest use and maintenance.
  • There is not a clear effort conveying the roles that parcelization and fragmentation play in decreasing the economic and ecological potential of private forests. The program appears to focus more on the individual ownerships and not the sum of the parts. This message is particularly important to engaging the broader public to gain their support for maintaining working forests across the landscape.
  • RTI may be "overshooting" part of the RTI audience through overly sophisticated technological approaches. The universe of private landowners is very diverse, and their needs range from quite basic to quite sophisticated. RTI should use variable delivery technologies to meet the needs of a broad spectrum of users, and continuously evaluate the effectiveness of these applied technologies. Adjust as appropriate.

Recommendations:

  • Increase your reliance on the cooperative extension network by providing new science in a format that they can easily incorporate into contemporary programs.
  • Strengthen relationships with Washington DNR (e.g., the use of science-based technology to direct riparian work on the Peninsula). DNR staff can provide a large technology transfer body to engage more potential users. Having DNR, the single largest forest owner in the state, using RTI technology would foster broader acceptance. Simultaneously, this would strengthen partnerships that might lead to other fiscal resources.
  • Develop a strategy for getting and retaining university and extension commitment to incorporate the RTI into routine academic business (research, teaching and extension activities).

Technology Transfer

Technology transfer is central to the RTI mission, serving as the conduit for conveying science-based information to identified users, principally those owners of rural and urban associated forestlands. RTI has used state of the art technology to construct models and communication options for conveying information to a suite of end users on ecological and economic values, as well as the important contributions privately owned forests make to the social fiber of the state. While technology has been central to their efforts, they have been innovative in their approaches, using many new and existing venues to deliver their products. Evidence of their use of diverse approaches includes newsletters, training programs, partner institutions and agencies, computer visualization models, and web-based educational materials.

The RTI, in part, built on the efforts of others at the UW by developing and delivering training for the Landscape Management System (LMS). In this fashion, they used LMS to address priority issues, and provide feedback on ways to improve it. In addition, the RTI developed a family forest landowner database needed to better understand the role these landowners play in managing the state's forests. The landowner database project proved to be very difficult but worthwhile. As county assessor's offices develop Geographic Information System data, RTI will further refine the database.

Additionally, RTI developed products that demonstrated the economic impacts that regulations are having on the state's smaller acreage owners. This material has been effective in altering RMAP requirements, and developing templates for riparian area alternate plans. Moreover, RTI provided several products dealing with how the state Forest Practice Act impacts family forest landowners. Included therein is information on reducing forest fuels in forests susceptible to catastrophic wildfires, carbon sequestration, economic analysis of various forest management strategies, and improving the value of growing and harvesting special forest products. RTI also developed a website that supports its mission of providing information to landowners.

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Strengths:

  • The development of the small forest landowner database provides opportunities for identifying the distribution of private ownerships, potential impacts on diverse forest values, and quantifying the threats of forest parcelization and fragmentation.
  • The RTI program provides a diverse set of tools for conveying management information and the merits of forest planning to small woodland owners and can make the linkages of these ownerships to larger landscape scale issues.
  • The RTI program clearly offers approaches for assessing the contributions of private forests to the state's economy and ecological services.
  • The importance of providing science-based information through diverse approaches to guide the development of forest related policy is fully recognized by the RTI program staff and stakeholders.
  • RTI has been very good at producing and marketing resource material (e.g. publications, training materials, newsletters, fact sheets, professional society presentations, and a first rate web page). For the latter, user analysis confirms that the website has been found and used, and is serving as a feedback loop to the RTI project team.
  • There is clear evidence that RTI has developed a diverse set of partners to deliver their products. The most obvious are: Washington State University Cooperative Extension, community colleges, tribal governments, Conservation Districts, and RC & EDD's. Moreover, there is clear evidence that programs are reaching and being implemented by private forest owners, forestry consultants, agencies, tribes, and others working directly with private owners.
  • Many RTI program elements were described as effective in addressing private forest issues. Among these were the contributions to the coached plan initiative, alternative plans, culvert placement, RAMP, and the Forest and Fish Agreement.
  • RTI developed some partnerships outside their state. Among these are colleges and universities in other states, forest resource consultants, agencies, and others.
  • To foster the use of their products, RTI has willingly included growth and yield models for other regions, and helped "troubleshoot" problems described by those outside their state.

Concerns:

  • RTI has not fully embraced education delivery models that would use train-the-trainers to fully support product delivery.

Recommendations:

  • The Review Team recommends that RTI consider ways to more actively convey to owners and community members the roles that private lands play in ecosystem function. This is particularly important since an objective is to describe the impacts of parcelization and fragmentation. RTI's efforts to reflect the amount and location of parcelization could be effective at fostering public discussions about the impacts these actions have on the sustainability of the state's forest and the array of the values they provide.
  • The Review Team recommends the development of resource and media materials that consider a more holistic approach (ecological, economic, and social). Such a move would likely be seen as more inclusive and may translate into broader program support.
  • The Review Team encourages RTI to more fully consider train-the-trainer approaches for leveraging their program. This approach empowers others to effectively assist in outreach responsibilities and it help build a cadre of disciples for the science and the technology. Some potential partners are WSU extension, WA's Department of Natural Resources (DNR), WA's Soil and Water Conservation Districts (SWCDs), USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), community colleges, and Non-Government Organization resource professionals.
  • The Review Team recommends the development of pilot programs for stakeholders not contacted through recent efforts (e.g., conservancies, environmental organizations, the public, non-government organizations (NGOs), etc.). These programs would showcase the science behind the educational materials used to help small forest landowners comply with the plethora of natural resource rules and regulations.
  • The Review Team recommends that RTI periodically submit its publication manuscripts and other communication products to outside review by educators working with individuals in selected stakeholder groups.
  • Explore ways to use the mailing lists of landowners, perhaps in a small, targeted region, to increase awareness and use of RTI resources. This may mean partnering more closely with DNR, since they currently control these lists. The Review Team recognizes that the counties extracted a promise not to contact these owners; however, it might be possible to use the information to develop target media materials to gain access to owners if permission to use the lists remains as a block.

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LONG-TERM PROGRAMMATIC SUSTAINABILITY

The Review Team identified funding program evaluation, and the use and composition of the advisory board as important elements to the long-term sustainability of the RTI. The urgency of the first element, funding, has been somewhat tempered as it was understood that RTI is a five year pilot. This assumption has proven true to this point, however, year five looms immediately ahead, and no permanent source of funding has been secured. The other two issues, evaluation and board composition, are more latent to start up projects and thus their timing is just reaching a period of high relevance. In the Review Team's view, satisfactory resolution of these three issues is paramount and must be aggressively addressed before the end of the pilot.

Funding:

Strengths:

  • RTI was developed with strong political support and initial funding for a five-year pilot program.
  • RTI has actively leveraged their funds to attract supplemental resources.
  • RTI has strategically allocated funds to projects valued by program supporters.
  • Fiscal efficiencies have accrued through the judicious and effective use of graduate students.
  • University support is demonstrated by a low overhead assessment of less than 15%.
  • The past and current responsiveness of RTI beneficiaries to champion RTI values to Congress and other stakeholders has helped retain the original funding source and may be useful for garnering new sources of funding.

Concerns:

  • The heavy reliance on one principal source of funding, a congressional earmark with an uncertain future and subject to shifts of political priorities, places an important body of work at risk.
  • Without the stability of long-term funding, it may be difficult to attract and retain high caliber faculty and staff.
  • Without federal funds, it appears that the ability to deliver RTI would end.
  • There are no apparent existing or expected sources of state funding for RTI.

Recommendations:

  • In order to sustain the Initiative, the Review Team recommends RTI supporters initiate an aggressive and entrepreneurial search for external funding. Working with beneficiary partners, seek both eastern and western Washington sources for outside funding to ensure long-term funding stability. Consider the creation of an endowment fund with financial support from non-profit organizations and the private sector. An immediate priority should be given to this effort to ensure continuity should Congressional support wane.
  • Ensure that funded activities are consistent with the Federal funding authorities.
  • Provide a solid base of information that may be used by advocates in support of long-term funding established in the state budget.

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Evaluation:

The history of the emergence of the RTI would seem to diminish the importance of a needs assessment at the outset of the program. The process of generating the initial Congressional support for the initiative would apparently validate the importance of the needs that the program is intended to address. Nevertheless, two things argue for a continual commitment to a rigorous needs assessment. First, the Congressional support is more likely to focus at the level of vision and mission than at the tactical/output level. Additional rigor and on-going grounding in the specific needs of rural landowners can only help to fine tune the programmatic focus. Second, the passage of time inevitably ensures that the issues facing private forest landowners have evolved since the RTI's initiation, and will continue to change for as long as the program exists. A continuously adapting strategy that can address new opportunities while remaining true to the , program's mandate and vision would seem essential, and indeed the RTI staff appears fully cognizant of that need. This process of adaptive change should be informed by a rigorous and systematic understanding of landowner issues, needs, and aspirations.

Conduct systematic impact evaluation

The RTI staff is encouraged to be creative in designing and implementing an impact evaluation system. To the extent that RTI programs are designed to meet particular needs, those programs should be evaluated in terms of meeting them. Technology transfer is not complete until the technology has been applied, and the value of the transfer is the positive impact that the application generates. The ability to "sell" RTI to Congress, to the Washington legislature, to UW/WSU administrators, to programmatic partners, or to private donors will depend in large measure on the ability to document the tangible impacts that the program has either generated or is positioned to generate. In tight budget times, every program competes on its merits, and evaluation is the foundation for documenting that merit.

In its early years, RTI represents potential much more than accomplishment. Several of the stakeholders interviewed by the Review Team felt that RTI is on the cusp of significant progress (with the planning templates most often mentioned.) The Review Team shares their sense of high expectation because the RTI team appears deeply committed to producing meaningful results. Nevertheless, a long-term programmatic commitment to evaluation reflects a commitment to see projects through to their ultimate conclusion. The kinds of stories that stakeholders told the Review Team convinced them that RTI is uniquely well positioned to generate significant benefits on behalf of the citizens of Washington. RTI should invest the time and resources to ensure that the evaluation information includes not only these stories but also more systematic measures of impact.

The Review Team recognizes that it is difficult to develop meaningful evaluation metrics that are simultaneously rigorous but not unduly burdensome or arbitrary. This is doubly difficult in forestry, where the effects of land management activities typically take decades to manifest. But evaluation should not be ignored merely because it cannot be perfect. The RTI staff has been innovative in solving a number of technological and organizational challenges; there is no doubt that their solutions to developing a meaningful evaluation framework would be any less so.

In summary, all programs should be evaluated, but pilot projects-such as this one-should place particular emphasis on evaluation because they are designed to be learning endeavors. Their learning benefit should accrue not only to their direct participants and constituents, but to the larger professional/policy community as well.

Concerns:

  • RTI has not developed a systematic framework for evaluating their education programs, the application of their technology, nor program impacts.
  • Effective education programs must include evaluation activities to document short and long-term impacts.
    RTI does not have a systematic approach for gauging the technological constraints on the effective use of their products by various stakeholders. Issues might include reading levels, use of jargon, and learning styles.

Recommendations:

  • It is important that RTI develop tools for gauging program impacts. The Review Team recommends that RTI develop standardized tools for evaluating individual programs and to conduct follow-up evaluations to learn more about the use of the new technologies. It is unnecessary to contact all participants, but it is important to develop a workable approach noting that qualitative data is as important and potentially more powerful than quantitative data. The Review Team recommends working with an evaluator to explore an appropriate workable approach.

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Advisory Board/Audiences:

The RTI Advisory Board functions as an advisory structure and a quasi-needs assessment structure. In that role, they provide both direction and feedback to the RTI staff. Since the RTI relies almost exclusively on the Advisory Board for these functions, the composition of the Advisory Board becomes critical. In view of that, it is important that the Advisory Board include stakeholders who have not been connected with the program or who might even have some level of opposition to it. While that may make the Board's deliberations on project priorities more contentious, the benefits may well outweigh the costs.

Strengths:

  • The Advisory Board represents a coalition of influential players in forest/land use policy in Washington State.
  • The existing Advisory Board was instrumental in garnering the current federal fiscal grant.
    The current Advisory Board formulated the technology and outreach priorities that fostered the existing reputation.
  • The existing Advisory Board is focusing on rural forest landowner and rural community interests and problems.
  • The existing Advisory Board has a spirit of collegiality and dedication.

Concerns:

  • The existing Advisory Board does not represent the full spectrum of rural forest landowner nor does it contain people who are unaware of or unconnected with the programs of the University of Washington and Washington State University.
  • Programs are addressing the needs of only a small segment of the private forest landowner community. There is a need to describe and then to reach those landowners not currently aware and/or availing themselves of RTI programs.
  • RTI has had a clear focus on those clientele directly engaged in private forest management and issues. However, they may have not considered the potential benefits of broadening audiences to include other stakeholders (e.g., community planners, conservancies, etc.).
  • RTI has by design not worked with some stakeholder groups (e.g., conservancies, environmental organizations, NGOs). These audiences are stakeholders and it is important to explore the use of RTI programs to gain their support. Failure to do so may prove counterproductive, especially if they perceive that RTI programs affect policy in ways they deem inappropriate.

Recommendations:

  • Expand the Advisory Board to include a more comprehensive range of viewpoints within the rural forest community.
  • RTI has been very effective in using its Advisory Board to establish priorities for developing products as reflected in the Board's support for RTI and its products. Adding members that share interest in the long-term sustainability of family forestlands can further strengthen support for RTI efforts, assure precision of the annual priority ranking of projects, and increase awareness of the role family forest landowners play in managing the state's natural resources. Adding a public official or other individual who can represent the general public and/or a member of an environmental organization are possible opportunities to strengthen board direction.
  • Expand the Advisory Board to include a current or past prominent elected official to represent public interests, and an environmental organization representative to expand the list of priority projects and strengthen support of its efforts.
  • To reach forest owners who are not innovators or early adopters, the Review Team recommends using approaches to identify landowners who are unaware of RTI programs or who are unwilling to attend current learning opportunities. This might include developing media releases, conducting direct mail campaigns, promoting the use of their website, or other innovative approaches, perhaps, in targeted geographic areas or communities.

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CONCLUSION

Based on the Review Team's exposure to RTI, the Review Team is able to affirm that the RTI has made major contributions toward providing usable technology to rural forest managers. Numerous testimonies boasted of the services and knowledge rendered to them by the RTI program. Additionally, many of the stakeholders reported that the material and knowledge provided to them was cutting edge and would not have been available under conventional university and other outreach structures. They also reported that the material was applicable to a regional and possibly national constituency.

Regarding greater efficiency and outreach, the stakeholder's referenced engaging distance learning technologies, additional community college partnerships, and expanded services from extension agents, DNR foresters and conservation commissions.

Finally, after careful review of materials provided in advance of and during the review, and
conversations with RTI staff, partners and stakeholders, the Review Team is able to affirm:

  1. That the RTI is having a positive impact on technology transfer to the benefit of forest-based rural communities and tribes.
  2. That RTI's approach to technology transfer does result in new opportunities for integration of economic and environmental goals into forest management, and environmental protection strategies.
  3. That RTI does provide a unique technology transfer approach, culture, and style and that RTI's impact would not likely have occurred in existing delivery structures.

Moreover, the Review Team is able to affirm that the RTI model does have application to a broader geographic structure but only if a more permanent source of funding can be obtained. In that regard, the Review Team encourages the RTI to simultaneously work on endowments, other sources of local funding and expanded partnerships. And finally, the Review Team encourages diligence. The RTI has a receptive, dependent audience and they are fully expecting you to help them remain viable.

 

APPENDIX

Persons Contacted:

Mr. Bruce Lippke, Director, RTI
Dr. Keith Blatner, Chair Natural Resource Sciences, WSU
Dr. Donald Hanley, Co-PI, WSU (housed at UW)
Dr. David Baumgartner, Extension Forester, WSU
Mr. Larry Mason, RTI Program Coordinator
Mr. Karl Denison, RTI Program Liaison, USDA-Forest Service
Mr. Charles Krebs, Regional Director, USDA - Forest Service Cooperative Forestry
Dr. David Thorud, Provost, UW
Mr. Luke Rogers, RTI Scientist
Dr. Jon Johnson, WSU
Mr. Rick Dunning, WA Farm Forestry Association
Mr. Steve Stinson, WA DNR - Small Forest Landowner Office
Mr. Pete Heide, WA Forest Protection Association
Mr. Dave Swietzer, WA Hardwoods Commission
Mr. Rod Fleck, Attorney, City of Forks, WA
Mr. Bob Playfair, WA Farm Forestry Association
Ms. Shelly Short, State Staff for Congressman George Nethercutt
Mr. Gerry Dixon, Forester, Quinault Indian Nation
Mr. Frank Gladics, Staff, Senate Energy and Resource Committee, Washington, DC
Mr. Peter Greissman, Extension Forester, WSU
Mr. Jerry Smith, Columbia-Pacific RC&EDD, Montesano, WA
Dr. Steve West, Wildlife Professor and Associate Dean, UW
Mr. Jim Carter, Land Management System Director, UW
Ms. Elaine Oneil, Graduate Student, UW
Mr. Jason Cross, Olympic Natural Resource Center Director
Dr. David Briggs, Director - Stand Management Cooperative, UW
Mr. Daniel Underwood, Professor - Peninsula Community College
Mr. Will Hamilton, Consulting Forester

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School of Environmental and Forest Sciences
USDA Forest Service State & Private Forestry
WSU Cooperative Extension
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Last Updated 2/2/2012 6:37:28 PM