PULLMAN, Wash. — The fur flies when the cats and dawgs meet in athletic competition, but they cuddle up together when it comes to the serious business of promoting good forestry.
WSU Cooperative Extension Forester Don Hanley does traditional extension forestry work. “My primary audience is Extension’s county-based faculty. Beyond that, I develop newsletters, workshops and publications for non-industrial forest landowners. Those traditional things.”
What is not traditional is his location. For his entire 17-year career at WSU, Hanley’s office has been on the campus of the University of Washington in the College of Forest Resources. He also holds a courtesy appointment on the UW faculty.
The end-users of the knowledge that Hanley develops and packages for outreach through county extension faculty, tours, demonstrations, workshops and publications are some 40,000 Washington residents who own a piece of forest land.
“They range from the farmer who may have 20 acres in timber behind the barn to a downtown Seattle professional who owns forested acreage in Okanogan County,” Hanley said.
Collectively, their holdings exceed 3 million acres and constitute a fifth of the state’s forest ecosystem.
“Our objective is to provide landowners with educational opportunities that will help them make better-educated choices on the management of their property based upon what their personal objectives are,” Hanley said.
Objectives vary. Timber management for income, wildlife habitat enhancement, and recreation are three common objectives.
“They have an enormous stewardship responsibility, ” Hanley said.”Forest ecosystems play a key role in protecting the environment. They provide us all with clean water and air and they are just nice places to be.”
Individual forestland owners are confronted with an array of challenges, including diseases and pests on the biological front; a daunting array of rules and regulations and numerous taxes.
“We do not get involved in trying to change policy, ” Hanley said. “We simply interpret the rules and regulations that are facing these people.”
The idea of placing a WSU faculty member at the UW came about when Hanley’s predecessor retired. His predecessor had been stationed at the WSU Puyallup Research and Extension Center. Extension administrators hoped that moving the position to the UW would enable Cooperative Extension to tap the expertise of the faculty of the state’s chief forestry school for outreach educational activities. The UW’s College of Forest Resources endorsed the idea.
While individual faculty at the two institutions had collaborated previously, particularly on research projects, the move created an institutional relationship that had not previously existed. The idea has been copied in many other states.
“I have had the opportunity to explain this relationship to literally thousands of citizens of the state,” Hanley said. “The general population thinks it’s an excellent idea that the state’s two major universities are collaborating.”
“There are world-class faculty at the UW. You will find experts on many forestry topics, such as nutrition; ecosystem science; silviculture; pulp and paper; and forest policy. It’s a broad-based program.”
Recently Frank Greulich, UW professor of forest engineering, collaborated on a major revision of “A Primer for Timber Harvesting,” a 30-page Cooperative Extension bulletin, designed to help landowners make decisions about timber sales. Previous editions had seen wide use in undergraduate programs.
Last year UW forestry faculty collaborated with WSU Cooperative Extension, the Washington Department of Natural Resources and the USDA Forest Service to create an award-winning video on how to recognize common forest root rots and manage infected forests.
The award was presented by the National Woodland Owners Association and the USDA Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service in recognition of excellence in technology transfer and promotion of good forestry and renewable resource management.
The relationship has grown over the years. “It has clearly evolved beyond me,” Hanley said. “For the last few years, for example, the Master Gardener program for King County has been located at the Center for Urban Horticulture, a facility on the UW campus and WSU faculty at Puyallup have taught classes in the College of Forest Resources.”
Does he take some kidding when the Apple Cup rolls around?
“Of course, depending on who wins,” Hanley said. “Competition on the football field is good. Competition amongst universities in the state paid by the state’s taxpayer’s is kind of foolish. Collaboration is the way to go.”
(Note to editors: You can reach Hanley at (206) 685-4960. He will return your calls.)
– 30 –