By Brett Butler, Research Forester, Northern Research Station USDA Forest Service
Beginning this month and continuing into October, the USDA Forest Service is conducting the National Woodland Owners Survey that includes intensified outreach to a random sampling of forest owners in Halifax County, N.C.
This is part of a pilot effort to gain valued feedback from Southern forestland owners, including minority forest owners who historically have not been well-represented in survey results either because they have not been included in statewide samples or have tended not to return their surveys.
We ask and urge Halifax forest owners who are contacted to take part. Results from the survey can help us to obtain better information on factors contributing to African American land loss, especially as it relates to woodlands management and future plans for these lands. Participation by all recipients will help ensure that the results represent the full range of family forest owners and ensure greater equity in the development of programs for forest owners.
The Forest Service is keenly aware that some forest owners are reluctant to engage with government entities due to historic practices that contributed to land loss and other inequities. The Forest Service wants to do its part to help rebuild the trust that forest owners rightly feel is needed, and this survey is part of the restoration process.
As we embark upon this latest National Woodland Owners Survey, we are pleased that the Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Project is supporting this pilot outreach effort and publicizing the Halifax County survey through this blog and other means.
Please note that the survey will be sent to a random sample of forest owners in Halifax County. This sample will be a percentage of all forest owners identified in Halifax; not all forest owners in the county will receive a survey. After the full mail survey process is completed, we will implement a brief telephone survey of non-respondents. This is the standard practice for the National Woodland Owners Surveys.
Thanks in advance to the Sustainable Forestry and Land Retention Project and to participating forest owners.