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Criterion 7 Indicator 53
Rationale
The Extent to Which the Institutional Framework Supports the Capacity to Provide for Public Involvement Activities and Public Education, Awareness, and Extension Programs, and Make Available Forest Related Information.
 
 
In order to participate in forest planning and support sustainable forest management, citizens must be well informed and knowledgeable about forestry issues and activities. Indicator #53 discusses the institutional framework that provides for education and public participation. This framework includes thousands of environmental groups, government agencies and services, nonprofit educational foundations, facilitation organizations, and forest products consortia.
 
Oregon’s public schools teach students important concepts about ecosystems, the effects of humans on ecosystems, and ecosystem management. For example, the state teaching and learning standards for the grade 10 certificate of initial mastery include the following benchmarks.
 
Students will:
  • Predict outcomes of changes in resources and energy flow in an ecosystem.
  • Explain how humans modify ecosystems as a result of population growth, technology, and consumption.
  • Describe the potential impact of human-caused changes on an existing ecosystem, and explain how environmental management can be used to minimize damage to the ecosystem.
  • Explain how a species, other than humans, can impact an ecosystem.
  • Use conceptual models to predict natural events. For example, students will use a model of ecological succession to predict future changes in a forest ecosystem.
 
Many school districts include environmental education as part of their curriculum. Some schools have an active "outdoor school" program as part of their educational experience.
 
 
 

Evaluation
Institutional framework for non-federal forest lands — public involvement
 
Many environmental and industry groups offer public involvement and educational opportunities. In addition, the Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) was created by the Oregon Legislature in 1991 to improve public understanding of the state’s forest resources. OFRI provides information on Oregon’s forest practices and forest products, and encourages sound forest management. The institute is funded by a tax on forest product producers. OFRI’s goals are to educate the public about how Oregon’s forests can be managed to sustain communities and protect the environment, to increase collaboration on forest management decisions in Oregon, and to provide information about today’s science-based forestry and modern wood products manufacturing.
 
Institutional framework for federally managed forests — public involvement
 
For the management of public forests to be truly sustainable, the federal agencies’ goals and methods must be consistent with the perceptions and wishes of the public. Therefore, it is essential that the public have opportunities to learn about, comment on, and participate in management of the federal forests.
 
The public participates in the management of federal forests not only through the planning process (as discussed under Indicator #50), but in a variety of other ways as well. The NEPA process requires that the public be informed about most proposed projects on federal forests, and that the public have the chance to review project design and the assessment of environmental effects. In addition, there is an administrative appeal process through which a citizen or group can have the project or plan reviewed at a higher level within the managing agency.
 
In addition to the public’s ability to review and question federal agency actions, many citizens participate in the management of federal forests through a wide variety of volunteer programs — contributing their time and effort to host recreation sites, provide information, maintain and build facilities, and assist in studies.
 
Institutional framework for non-federal forest lands — public education
 
There are a number of ways that federal agencies assist state and local education programs with information about the environment, forests, and forest management. This assistance includes model curricula, training materials, and instructor training.
 
Institutional framework for non-federal forest lands — extension programs
 
The federal government also has programs that are dedicated to sharing knowledge about good forest practices with non-federal forest managers and owners. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Cooperative Extension Service assists in personnel and programs to enable state land-grant universities to share knowledge with landowners and forest managers. In Oregon, the federal forests facilitate this transfer of information and technology by providing sites for experiments and demonstrations of new practices. The federal forest management agencies work closely with the Oregon Department of Forestry to reach out with new information.In Oregon, one of the County Extension Service’s goals is, "to get practical information to people who need it, when they need it." The agency has a series of 90 instructional brochures available that deal with forestry related topics. General topics include: management planning, forest measurements, reforestation, stand management, forest protection, logging, marketing forest products, multiple use, business management, and kinds of assistance. The Extension Service also has instructional material on pesticides, insect pests, and soil and water. Each county has an extension office, and materials can be ordered via phone, fax, mail, or the World Wide Web (WWW.)
 
Institutional framework for non-federal forest lands — information
 
A variety of publications have information on sustainable forest objectives, techniques, and benefits. The U.S. Forest Service’s experiment stations provide a number of research and technology publications, as well as providing a cadre of internationally recognized experts. Also, the professional staff of the federally managed forests often provide their expertise to other forest landowners on a more informal basis.
 
A broad range of environmental, forest industry, professional society, and public interest groups provide information about sustainable forestry issues. The list includes, but is not limited to: the American Forest & Paper Association, the Nature Conservancy, the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, Oregon Trout, the Pacific Rivers Council, the Northwest Forestry Association, the Oregon Natural Heritage Program, Oregon State University College of Forestry, the Society of American Foresters, and the World Forestry Center.
 

Trends
 
Environmental education and teacher training programs have been increasing since the early 1970s. Public information kiosks, literature, guided nature walks, and public awareness tours of state, federal, and industrial forest lands have been increasing since the early 1990s.