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June 9, 2021

10:30AM - 11:30AM | Economic Value of Forests for Water Resource Protection: A Training Program in Benefit Transfer Methods

Forests play a vital role in protecting water quality by reducing soil erosion, sedimentation and filtering excess nutrients. This session will introduce valuation concepts from natural resource economics, including net present value and benefit transfer, and provide training on how to use a new calculator, produced by Penn State Extension, to estimate the economic benefits of conserving forest land to protect water resources. The calculator is based on an econometric model built using 40 observations of value from 18 studies measuring public willingness-to-pay (WTP) for forest-water protection throughout the US. Outputs represent the estimated value of maintaining forests (i.e., green infrastructure) for water protection services at the county level and per acre using different forest conservation strategies. Total values can be used to help inform planning and zoning decisions or demonstrate the value of local forest conservation. In this session, participants will learn how to use the calculator and integrate estimated values into planning decisions, such as a cost-benefit analysis.

Presenter

Melissa Kreye | Assistant Professor, Forest Resources Management, Penn State University
Melissa M. Kreye is an Assistant Professor of Forest Resources Management at Pennsylvania State University. She uses her expertise in non-market valuation and behavioral economics to address place-based problems in socio-ecological forest systems. Her Forest Benefits and Values program seeks to improve understanding of how people value forests and decision-making on private forest lands. Her goal as a scientist and a leader is to advance initiatives that promote robust science, collaboration, environmental sustainability, and social equity.

12:30PM - 2:00PM | Conservation Based Estate Planning for Pennsylvania Forest Landowners: What Role Can Conservation Organizations Play?

In Pennsylvania, almost 10 million acres are owned by individuals, families, partnerships, hunt clubs and other non-corporate ownerships. These private forest landowners own their land for myriad values, yet the majority, 57%, wish their land to stay in their families, and hope their beneficiaries will be able to care well for the woods. Few currently take advantage of or intend to use tools that consider land conservation beyond the current tenure. Significant proportions of these acreages are projected to change ownership over the next 10 years as the baby boomers divest or pass the asset onto their heirs or beneficiaries. The Conservation Based Estate Planning (CBEP) model aims to help interested landowners honor their love for their land and desire for its long-term stewardship. It strives to achieve this by providing the next owner, whether known or not, the largest, intact block of functioning forest as possible. This workshop provides a “look under the hood” at the stages within the CBEP process, illustrated in a model developed from research supported by the Center for Private Forests at Penn State and derived from data collected through interviews with over two dozen estate attorneys and financial planning professionals on forest legacy planning with their clients. The goal of the project was to provide forest landowners with a “crib sheet” or “guide” to the planning professionals’ perceptions of the stages within the process, framing the options, opportunities, and challenges they may encounter. Recognizing that the time at which land changes hands represents a critical juncture in the continuity of land use, achieving a greater level of CBEP through empowering landowners to identify, prioritize, and achieve their long-term stewardship and legacy objectives will advance opportunities to maintain contiguous core forest blocks across the landscape.

Conservation organizations engage landowners through a wide array of messaging, but with ultimate goals of land conservation. This workshop will give an overview of forest landowners’ future plans and needs, present the new model and tools for supporting landowners interested in legacy planning, and conclude with a facilitated discussion focused on identifying opportunities for introducing CBEP into conservation organization work.

Presenters

Allyson Muth | Director, Center for Private Forests at Penn State University
Allyson Brownlee Muth began at Penn State in 2004 working with the Pennsylvania Forest Stewards Volunteer Program and conducting outreach to forest landowners across the state (and beyond). She is now an assistant research professor and the director of the Center for Private Forests at Penn State. Allyson has degrees in forestry and an Ed.D. with an emphasis in Collaborative Learning. She has worked in the forest industry and for private consulting firms and has a strong interest in peer learning and in creating dialogue to advance understanding of forest stewardship issues and opportunities.

Paul Roth, PhD | Project Partner– Conservation-Based Estate Planning: Integrating Estate Professionals and Landowner Legacy Objectives, Center for Private Forests at Penn State
Paul Roth completed his MS in Forestry at Penn State in 2003, which focused on forest visualization software used to educate landowners on the potential outcomes of their harvesting decisions. He continued to work with Penn State Extension through 2005. From 2005 – 2013 he was with the PA DCNR Bureau of Forestry, serving as a Forest Program Specialist within the Forest Planning & Information Division and assisted or led efforts around forest planning, GIS, inventory & monitoring, carbon, climate, biomass energy, and monitoring shale gas development on state forest land, and served as the Chief of the Resource Inventory & Monitoring Section for just over three years. From 2013 – 2019 he served as Senior Adviser to the Director of a DC non-profit that focused on natural resource and energy policy advocacy at the federal level. In 2015, he re-initiated his PhD pursuit at Penn State, which he defended and graduated in 2019 titled Investigating the Role of Professional Planners for Enhancing Private Forest Legacy Decisions. Since 2019, he has been serving as the State Director in Pennsylvania for the Energy Foundation as a consultant.

 

2:30PM - 4:00PM | Adaptive Forest Management Under Conservation Easements: Current Status and Opportunities for Adaptation and Adoption

Conservation easements are a viable tool for forest and agricultural land protection. However, forest landowners have been slow to adopt the practice due to lingering misconceptions about accompanying constraints as well, perhaps, perceived misalignment of values between current owners and those who wish to conserve wooded landscapes. In the past, objective statements for individual conservation easements sought to conserve a broad suite of values; however, over time through lessons learned by conservancies and land trusts, objective statements for easements have tended to be more focused. While this should simplify easement enforcement and monitoring, it has led to less flexibility for both landowners and conservation organizations. There is a clear need to create conservation easements designed specifically for working forests that allow for adaptive management especially under changing ecological conditions (e.g., invasive species, climate change) as well as changing norms and expectations held by future owners and conservancy staff. While there are tools for adapting forest management that fit current and changing needs, many conservancies may lack the technical capacity or staff hours to implement and monitor easements that allow for adaptive changes imposed by changing objectives, ownership, and even unexpected external ecological conditions that will change conservation values. This workshop will share the results of an applied research project bench-marking conservation organizations from around the US that focus their protection strategies on working forests, as well the results of a recent survey of Pennsylvania’s land trusts and conservancies to assess current modes of engagement with adaptive management on forested properties. In the second half we will hold a facilitated discussion to understand land trust and conservancy needs and resources that may assist with forest management under conservation easement, and opportunities to adapt existing models in use today.

Presenters

Allyson Muth | Director, Center for Private Forests Penn State
Allyson Brownlee Muth began at Penn State in 2004 working with the Pennsylvania Forest Stewards Volunteer Program and conducting outreach to forest landowners across the state (and beyond). She is now an assistant research professor and the director of the Center for Private Forests at Penn State. Allyson has degrees in forestry and an Ed.D. with an emphasis in Collaborative Learning. She has worked in the forest industry and for private consulting firms and has a strong interest in peer learning and in creating dialogue to advance understanding of forest stewardship issues and opportunities.

Katie Ombalski | Woods and Waters Consulting
Katie Ombalski is the Principal for Woods and Waters Consulting, LLC. located in central Pennsylvania. She earned her Bachelor of Science from Penn State University in Environmental Resource Management and a Master of Science from Frostburg State University in Wildlife and Fisheries Biology. Katie has over 25 years of experience dedicated to restoring and conserving forest and water resources throughout the Central Appalachian Region and the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, including 16 years of service within the land trust community where she assisted private landowners restore and permanently protect their properties using current best management practices and conservation easements.

Jim Finley | Emeritus Professor, Center for Private Forests Penn State
Jim Finley earned his B.S. in Forest Science in 1970 and in 1975 completed a masters in forest resources at Penn State. In 1991, he obtained a doctoral degree in extension education. Jim is a Fellow of the Society of American Foresters. When he retired in 2017, Jim was Penn State’s extension forester, held the Ibberson Chair in Natural Resources Management, and co-founded the Center for Private Forests at Penn State. His research focus involved human dimensions of natural resources, forest management, and regeneration. He was honored with many recognitions including the Pennsylvania Forestry Association Rothrock Award in 1986 and Sandy Cochran Award in 200, the Society of American Foresters Technology Transfer Award in 2000, and the College of Ag Sciences Leadership Award in 2007.