SAES-422 Multistate Research Activity Accomplishments Report

Status: Approved

Basic Information


• Clark, Nehalem - Rocky Mountain Research Station, USFS • Cochran, Audra - University of Idaho • Fagerlie, Dan - Washington State University (online) • Fitzgerald, Stephen - Oregon State University (online) • Friday, J. B. - University of Hawaii (online) • Gosz, Rusty - University of Idaho • Groth, Aaron - Oregon State University • Klein, Norma - Oregon State University • Kolb, Peter - Montana State University (online) • McAvoy, Darren - Utah State University • Ober, Holly - Oregon State University, WCC Administrative Advisor • Perleberg, Andy - Washington State University, WCC Chair-Elect • Schnepf, Chris - University of Idaho, WCC de facto Chair • Zamora, Diomy - USDA NIFA

The 2-day meeting of the committee was organized and hosted by de facto Chair Chris Schnepf, UI Extension Forester. The meeting began with ¾ day indoors in Sandpoint, at the Sandpoint Organic Ag Center, followed by a field tour of several sites in the vicinity in the late afternoon and a field tour the entire following day. 

After a welcome from Chris on the first day, participants introduced themselves. There were 10 individuals present in person and 4 online, representing universities from 6 states (HI, ID, MT, OR, UT, WA) and 2 federal agencies (NIFA, USFS).

Holly Ober provided an overview of the Western Coordinating Committee of Extension Foresters for those new to the group. We are an “official” multi-state entity, formally chartered by the Ag Experiment Station Directors, under the authority of the Hatch Act, formed with the intent of fostering multi-state, multi-institution, and multi-disciplinary collaboration among Extension forestry programs that span the Western states. We identify present and emerging forest resource management issues of large-scale significance and evaluate potential interest and capacity for addressing them using a multi-state approach. Meetings typically include 5 primary components: introductions and time to get to know one another; information sharing on issues of multi-state interest including a round-robin discussion of recent events, newly created products and resources, and ongoing efforts likely of mutual interest; conversations about present and emerging issues of concern that span state boundaries, including discussion of potential opportunities to work together and exploration of funding opportunities that could be jointly pursued; updates from USDA-NIFA; and a field tour with local experts to see forestry issues on the ground.

Each multistate project submits a proposal of 5-year duration that outlines a justification for the group’s existence, a description of the group’s objectives, and a list of expected outcomes and impacts. The current proposal is the second for this group, with the first spanning 2014-2019 and the second 2019-2024. The group will need to submit a new proposal by January 2024 if we intend to continue functioning 2024-2029. Everyone present was in agreement that we ought to submit a new proposal. We agreed to look at the two past proposals, and update the language so that it reflects new and emerging issues of broad interest to those in the group, and promises the use of modernized approaches to address them. Diomy Zamora requested that we try to craft objectives that are more specific and quantifiable than those of past proposals. Individuals suggested several pointed areas of improvement and recommended additions to objectives within the current proposal that could be incorporated into the new proposal. Holly agreed to draft an updated proposal and send it around to others for input.

As for governance, the group agreed that because no chair-elect had been selected, Chris Schnepf was deserving of the role of chair of the group for the current year, given all the effort he put into planning the current meeting. Andy Perleberg volunteered to serve as chair-elect and will host the meeting in 2024.

Next, the group engaged in a round robin to share about activities and accomplishments. Topics that arose (in alphabetical order) included: agroforestry, biochar, chainsaw training, citizen science, climate change, early seral forest management, forest health, information dissemination and battling misinformation, invasive species management, professional logger educational training, restoration following wildfires, tribal partnerships, wildfire risk reduction, Women Owning Woodlands, and workforce development. Individuals highlighted the value of RREA funding to support their efforts and the value of having demonstration forests to provide learning opportunities for clientele. 

Next, the group was joined by Sara Delheimer, Program Coordinator and Impact Writer for the Multistate Research Fund Impact Program. Sara led the group through a workshop on effective impact reporting. She began with some background information and then we proceeded to lead the critique of some example statements. Sara defined impact as changes in knowledge, behavior, or conditions, and explained that impact statements should answer the questions “so what?” and “who cares?”. They should be written for readers who are not technical experts (e.g., should avoid the use of jargon), should be brief but clear (i.e., focused), should use an active voice, and should provide context. Each impact statement should have 4 components: describe the issue, tell what action was taken, describe results/outputs, and tell about the impact. She highlighted the importance of considering what impacts might be achieved by a project at the very beginning so that measurements of appropriate factors can be taken over time to allow reporting on changes resulting from educational efforts.

Following lunch, Diomy Zamora provided an update from USDA-NIFA. After serving as an Extension Forester in MN for 16 years, he’s now National Program Leader within NIFA. At the meeting last year he had mentioned he had been asked to describe pressing issues facing western Extension Foresters so NIFA can allocate relevant grant funding through competitive programs and he followed up by sharing that he was in fact able to incorporate what he heard during the WCC 2022 field tour into an RFA to benefit small businesses (SBIR – Small Business Innovation Research). He also shared that a new Director was appointed for NIFA, Manjit Misra, and the acting director, Dionne Tombs, has transitioned to Associate Director for Programs. Last year there was $2.1 billion in funding given through capacity and competitive funding. NIFA’s new strategic plan (encompassing 2022-2026) identifies 6 goals (Combat Climate Change to Support America's Working Lands, Natural Resources, and Communities; Ensure America's Agricultural System is Equitable, Resilient, and Prosperous; Foster an Equitable and Competitive Marketplace for All Agricultural Producers; Provide All Americans Safe, Nutritious Food; Expand Opportunities for Economic Development and Improve Quality of Life in Rural and Tribal Communities; and Attract, Inspire and Retain an Engaged and Motivated Workforce that's Proud to Represent USDA). Diomy highlighted a new “USDA Science and Research Strategy Plan” that describes a vision to transform agriculture and forestry systems to address the challenges faced across the US during the next 3 years. Diomy explained that although $30 million is authorized annually for RREA efforts, only $4 million is given by congress. He challenged us to help him better understand the impacts of our work so he can educate others about the importance of our efforts and potentially obtain more funding to support it. Emphasis should be on impacts rather than outputs. Diomy mentioned that the current RREA Strategic Plan has been extended until next year, after which time a new plan will be released. Diomy also mentioned opportunities to apply for conference grants that provide up to $50,000. 

Next, the group began a field tour to learn about local forestry issues. The first destination was the McArthur Lake Wildlife Corridor, an area plagued by an extraordinarily high rate of wildlife collisions with motor vehicles. Kennon McKlintock from Idaho TNC spoke about the role of the Forest Legacy Program to protect private working forestlands from conversion to other uses through the use of voluntary conservation easements. Next, the group visited Young Living Highland Flats Tree Farm and Distillery to learn from Todd Hittle and Michael Carter about all aspects of the distillation of essential oils from conifers.

On the second day the group visited 4 locations. First, Paul Buckland and Frank Morado shared information about the North American Assisted Migration Adaptation Trials as we viewed one of the 48 field test locations that extend from northern California to southern Yukon. Then we visited a fuel break and heard about Good Neighbor Authority work from Eric Valiquette, Bill Love, and Ken Homik, as they described the Scattered Lands Hazardous Fuels/Shared Stewardship work. After lunch we heard from Andrew Moore about other Scattered Lands Good Neighbor Authority treatments. Lastly, we visited the Priest River Experimental Forest where Hannah Basham, Terrie Jain, Jason Reinhardt, and John Byrne showed long-term demonstration plots, hybrid Douglas-fir trials, huckleberry microsite research, and forest regeneration research.



The annual meeting provided opportunities to discuss common themes and identify areas where we could increase our collective impact by collaborating in the future. Below we describe our discussions according to the six "Expected Outcomes and Impacts" described in our current project description.

  1. Enhanced regional and sub-regional opportunities for increased integration.
    • Much of the indoor annual meeting was spent discussing topics of interest in each state, with the goal of identifying areas of shared interest and concern.
    • Topics of mutual interest that surfaced included biochar, forest health, wildfire fuel reduction, post-fire recovery, cross boundary efforts, climate change, and maple syrup production.
    • A cross-boundary effort that seems to be of interest to many in the group is a joint publication on biochar. Given that Chris Jones (AZ) is in the process of organizing a session on biochar at the 2024 ANREP conference, this coming year could be a good time for the group to also work on a multistate publication.
  2. Greater regional awareness of common issues and trends.
    • The group discussed recent efforts and planned future efforts, as well as challenges and opportunities in our respective states, in an effort to identify commonalities.
  3. Development of innovations in program design and implementation.
    • The group recognized the need to better quantify our impacts. The training provided by Sara Delheimer during this annual meeting should assist us in in thinking about what metrics we ought to measure as we begin planning new programs so that we’re positioned well to describe impacts at the end. We anticipate beginning work on crafting our objectives soon, keeping in mind the need to define them so that can be reported on in a quantifiable way later.
    • We also discussed effective means of information sharing and efforts to battle misinformation through joint messaging.
  4. Deeper penetration into common clientele groups and new audiences.
    • The group discussed programming to reach Native American audiences. We shared approaches taken and lessons learned.
    • Several members also shared information about their efforts to reach professional loggers through both in-person and online trainings.
  5. Increase effectiveness of relevant natural resource disciplines into program design and delivery.
    • There was recognition of the growing importance of climate change and boundary-spanning efforts on natural resource management.
  6. Improved effectiveness and accountability of existing programs.
    • Diomy suggested that when we write our proposal outlining our 2024-2029 efforts, we craft objectives that are more specific and more quantifiable than was the case with the current proposal so that our impacts are more readily apparent. The training provided by Sara Delheimer should assist us in this regard.

Cross-boundary accomplishments made possible due to communications from past meetings  

  • Biochar Workshop (n=~75 individuals) organized by Chris Schnepf (ID); expert instructor was Darren McAvoy (UT).
  • Field training of consulting and state foresters offered by Chris Schnepf (ID) and Andy Perleberg (WA).
  • Publication currently undergoing peer review from Extension foresters from ID, OR, and WA that explains carbon markets to small woodland owners. The document is expected to be available in print and online later this year.



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