University of Minnesota
College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences
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Department of Forest Resources

Center for Environment & Natural Resource Policy

Private Forest Land Management

ENRP_ForestryGroup_picFamily Forest Land Certification

One way in which forest landowners can demonstrate their commitment to the principles of forest stewardship is to have their forest land certified. Forest land certification is a process whereby landowners voluntarily seek an independent assessment of their forest management and timber harvesting practices in relation to a set of predetermined standards established by the certifying organization to ensure forest resources are managed for their environmental, economic, and social benefits. This study evaluated Minnesota family forest landowner attitudes toward forest land certification; Minnesota logger attitudes toward logger certification; and the likelihood that the state’s family forest owners will choose to certify their forest land.

Funding support:


Kilgore, M., J. Leahy, J. Donnay, C. Hibbard, and C. Blinn. 2007. Evaluating logger certification attitudes and preferences: a Minnesota case study. Forest Products Journal 57(1): 84-90.

Kilgore, M., J. Leahy, C. Hibbard, and J. Donnay. 2007. Assessing family forest land certification opportunities: a Minnesota case study. Journal of Forestry 105(1): 28-33.

Kilgore, M., J. Leahy, C. Hibbard, J. Donnay, K. Flitsch, D. Anderson, J. Thompson, P. Ellefson, A. Ek. 2005. Developing a certification framework for Minnesota’s family forests (.pdf). Staff Paper no.183. St. Paul, MN: Department of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota.

Kilgore, M.A., S.A. Snyder, J. Schertz, and S.J. Taff. 2008. Family forest stewardship: do owners need a financial incentive? Journal of Forestry 106(7): 357-362.

Leahy, J., M. Kilgore, C. Hibbard, and J. Donnay. 2008. Family forest land owners’ interest in and perceptions of forest certification: focus group findings from northern Minnesota. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry 25(2): 73-81.

Forest Land Parcelization

Forest parcelization is the division of larger blocks of forest land into smaller blocks with multiple owners. Previous research has hypothesized that parcelization, a land ownership measure, can lead to fragmentation and development, a land cover measure, which might further affect the management and use of forest land for their many products and amenity values. In Minnesota, parcelization has been identified by policymakers and forest land managers as the single most important policy issue affecting the economic and ecological health of at least one state's forests. This study used tax records to quantify the extent and location of forest parcelization activity and the relationship between parcelization and development in a largely forested northern Minnesota county.

Funding support:


Block-Torgerson, K., M.A. Kilgore, S.J. Taff, and S.A. Snyder. 2010. Forest land parcelization in northern Minnesota:  A multicounty assessment (.pdf). Staff Paper no. 212. St. Paul, MN:  Department of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota.

Mundell, J., S. Taff, M. Kilgore, and S. Snyder. 2007. Assessing trends in forest parcelization and development in Minnesota: an Itasca County case study (.pdf). Staff Paper no.192. St. Paul, MN: Department of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota.

Taff, S.J., Snyder, S.A., M.A. Kilgore, and J. Schertz. In press. Using real estate records to assess forest land parcelization and development: A Minnesota case study. Landscape and Urban Planning.

Financial Incentives to Encourage Forest Stewardship

The nation’s family forest land represents almost half of all forest land in the United States. These forests provide a range of goods and services that society is interested in perpetuating such as timber, wildlife habitat, recreational opportunities, and clean water. The public’s interest in private forestry is grounded in its desire to promote healthy forests that produce a range of uses and benefits. This interest is reflected through a variety of public policy approaches used to influence the management, use, and protection of family forest lands. Through a series of studies, we examined two important and popular public policy approaches, financial incentives and tax policies, to evaluate the influence each has on forest stewardship.

Funding support:


Bagdon, B.A., and M.A. Kilgore. 2013. The opportunity cost of developmental deed restrictions for Minnesota private forest owners: an empirical analysis. Staff Paper Series no. 221. St. Paul, MN:  Department of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota. 

Greene, J., S. Daniels, M. Jacobson, M. Kilgore, and T. Straka. 2005. Existing and potential incentives for practicing sustainable forestry on non-industrial private forest lands. Final Report to National Commission on Science for Sustainable Forestry. NSCCF RP: C2.

Hibbard, C. M., M. A. Kilgore, and P. V. Ellefson. 2003. Property taxation of private forests in the United States: A National Review. Journal of Forestry 101(3):44-49.

Hibbard, C.M., M.A. Kilgore, and P.V. Ellefson. 2001. Property tax programs focused on forest resources: a review and analysis (.pdf). Staff Paper Series no. 150. St. Paul, MN: Department of Forest Resources, University of Minnesota.

Jacobson, M., J. Greene, S. Daniels, M. Kilgore, and T. Straka. 2009. Financial incentive programs’ influence in promoting sustainable forestry in the northern region. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry 26(2):61-67.

Jacobson, M., J. Greene, T. Straka, S. Daniels, and M. Kilgore. 2009. Influence and effectiveness of financial incentive programs in promoting sustainable forestry in the south. Southern Journal of Applied Forestry 33(1):35-41.

Kilgore, M. A., and C. R. Blinn. 2004. Policy tools to encourage the application of timber harvesting guidelines in the United States and Canada. Forest Policy and Economics 6 (2004):111-127.

Kilgore, M.A., S. E. Daniels, M.G. Jacobson, J.L. Greene, and T.J. Straka. 2009. Financial incentive programs for non-industrial private forest owners website. Journal of Extension 47(4): 4TOT4.

Kilgore, M.A., J.L. Greene, M.G. Jacobson, T.J. Straka, and S.E. Daniels. 2007. The influence of financial incentive programs in promoting sustainable forestry on the nation’s family forests. Journal of Forestry 105(4):184-191.

Kilgore, M.A., S.A. Snyder, J. Schertz, and S.J. Taff. 2008. Family forest stewardship: do owners need a financial incentive? Journal of Forestry 106(7):357-362.

Kilgore, M.A., S.A. Snyder, J. Schertz, and S.J. Taff. 2008. What does it take to get family forest owners to enroll in a forest stewardship-type program? Forest Policy and Economics 10(2008):507-514.

Straka, T.J., M.A. Kilgore, M.G. Jacobson, J.L. Greene, and S.E. Daniels. 2007. Influence of financial incentive programs in sustaining wildlife values. Human Dimensions of Wildlife 12:197-19.

Recreational Access to Private Forest Lands

Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that recreation is one of the most important reasons why people own forest land. Private forest land is not only a place for the owner to recreate, but is also an important resource to other individuals who rely on these forests for recreation. This is particularly evident with respect to hunting, where nearly three-fourths of all hunting effort in the US occurs on private lands, much of which is forested. With national studies pointing to a decline in the amount of private land that is open to the public for recreation, we examined what drives forest landowners to post their property to prohibit public access and what value these owners place on having exclusive recreation rights to their forest land.

Funding support:


Becker, D.R., G. Wilson, and S. Snyder. 2010. Central Minnesota private landowner attitudes toward off-highway vehicle access. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry 27(2):62-67.

Snyder, S.A., M.A. Kilgore, S.J. Taff, and J Schertz. 2009. Does forest land posted against trespass really mean no hunter access? Human Dimensions of Wildlife 14(4):251-264.

Snyder, S.A., M.A. Kilgore, S.J. Taff, and J. Schertz. 2008. Estimating a family forest owner’s likelihood of posting against trespass. Northern Journal of Applied Forestry 25(4):180-185.

Personal Networks and Peer Landowner Programs

This research examines how information is obtained and shared within private forest landowner networks and how knowledge of those networks can inform extension forestry efforts in the US.


Kueper, A.M., E.S. Sagor, and D.R. Becker. 2012. Learning from landowners: examining the role of peer exchange in private landowner outreach through landowner networks. Society and Natural Resources 0:1-19. doi: 10.1080/08941920.2012.722748