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Oak woodland management, research and outreach

The Issue

For more than 25 years, the University of California has collaborated with the California Department of Fish and Game, CalFire and other agencies to conduct research and outreach focused on conserving California’s native oaks. In order to continue these efforts, UC has organized the Oak Woodland Conservation Workgroup (OWCW), which seeks to maintain, and where possible, increase acreage of California's hardwood range resources to provide wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, wood and livestock, high quality water supply, and aesthetic value.

What Has ANR Done?

To make sure that research-based information about oaks and oak woodlands is readily accessible to oak woodland owners and managers, the OWCW established the Oak Woodland Management website, http://ucanr.org/sites/oak_range. This site contains considerable content and links to other oak groups and websites. For instance, there is a page specifically devoted to the Gold Spotted Oak Borer, a recently discovered oak pest that is decimating several species of native California oaks in San Diego County. The website also makes it easy for visitors to download a wide range of free information on California oaks, and to find out how to order other oak-related publications such as the recently published book titled "Oaks in the Urban Landscape: Selection, Care and Preservation."

The Payoff

Conserving California's native oaks

To determine the effectiveness of UC’s research and outreach efforts, three surveys designed to detect changes in landowner behavior were conducted. The first in 1985 provided baseline data and later surveys in 1992 and 2004 provided an opportunity to document changes in behavior that affected overall woodland conservation. A comparison of survey responses in 1985 and 2004 demonstrated that there was a significant decrease in the number of landowners who cut and sold firewood. In addition, there was an upturn in the number of landowners who relied on Cooperative Extension for advice, increasing from 7 percent in 1985 to 16 percent by 2004. Survey results also suggested that Cooperative Extension research and outreach on how canopy cover varied with forage production affected landowner decision-making: the percentage of landowners who cut oaks to increase forage production decreased from 39 percent to 24 percent. Finally, there was an overall decline in the percentage of landowners who cut oaks (from 85 percent to 65 percent) and growth in the percentage of landowners who plant oaks (from 6 percent to 32 percent). Landowners' conservation of the state’s native oaks will insure that future generations of Californians will continue to have oaks and oak woodlands and the myriad values they provide.


Supporting Unit:

ESPM - Ecosystem Sciences, Sierra Foothill Research & Extension Center, UCCE San Luis Obispo County
Bill Tietje,(805) 781-5938, tietje@berkeley.edu
Doug McCreary, (530) 639-8807, mccreary@berkeley.edu