- Author: Grace Dean
For Yolo County's Tracy Katelman, being a self-proclaimed “treehugger” was a part of her identity. A forester though? “I wasn't planning on getting my forester's license,” she told me. “When I helped start the Institute for Sustainable Forestry in Humboldt County in 1991, we were exploring how to empower small forestland owners to restore their cut-over forests. After receiving a CAL FIRE grant, I learned I had to be a Registered Professional Forester (RPF) to legally talk to people about how to manage their forestlands.” That began a long career in natural resource education, a topic for which Katelman is passionate. She currently serves on the UC ANR Forest Stewardship Initiative Steering Committee, where she helps guide the Forest Stewardship Workshop Series.
The Forest Stewardship Workshop series hosted by University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR) is reaching out to private forest landowners in the Sacramento and Solano County area beginning July 8th to September 12th. However, landowners across California are welcome to join!
The series has been recognized by the National Woodland Owners Association, the National Association of University Forest Resources Programs (NAUFRP), and most crucially, past participants as an immersive, comprehensive, and effective piece of education. Katelman has a long history in forest landowner outreach and education from her Humboldt days to the present and has served on the workshop steering committee from the beginning.
She believes this workshop series is special, from the hyper-localized workshop content to the hours spent carefully recruiting natural resource professionals that give meaningful presentations. Katelman explains that the professionals are often volunteering their time to be available to participants both during and after the workshop series. Regarding the workshop curriculum, she tells me this next cohort will include locally important topics such as oak woodland restoration, post-fire restoration, prescribed burning, and targeted grazing.
“I think many people buy forestland because they fall in love with the beauty,” Katelman said, “then, they realize ‘This is a lot to manage'.” That overwhelming feeling is something she says the workshop seeks to address head-on by providing landowners with useful skills and easily accessible information. She continued, “The series empowers people with relevant information; it demystifies a lot of the jargon around forestry. Rules, regulations, tax codes-- it can all be overwhelming for someone learning how to manage their forest. I think many are pleasantly surprised at how much they can do to help restore the health and vitality of their forests, even those areas already burned.”
“It's important for forest landowners to have access to tools like these,” Katelman says, “because many feel a responsibility and an urgency to act with the threat of wildfire.” She continued that fire is an effective way to get landowners to become interested in forest management, and the workshop series is a solid first step. She points out that the information the workshop provides is suitable for all levels. It introduces beginners to natural resource professionals while also providing information and resources for those with more complex issues. Additionally, Katelman is a big believer in providing incentives for landowners. Landowners who complete the workshop series are eligible to receive a free site visit from a local Registered Professional Forester, CA Certified Burn Boss, or CA Certified Range Manager, whichever they prefer.
The connections that community members make with one another during the series is a special aspect. Katelman noted that, stating “Peer learning is a critical part of a successful educational effort. Talking to people who are dealing with the same issues as you can be very helpful; people can learn together.” The support that peer learning creates is unique, she says, and overall adds to the atmosphere of the workshop. “These workshops can be fun and inspiring, especially the field days!” Katelman says of the workshops, sharing how she sat in on a Napa workshop cohort earlier this year. She explains, “It's inspiring to see landowners talking to one another and sharing experiences. There's really something for everyone. It's a positive, supportive atmosphere.”
Registration for the Sacramento/Solano Forest Stewardship Co-hort is now open! Sign up here. Registration is $60. Scholarship assistance for the registration fee is available. Questions should be sent to email@example.com.