Graduation Date

Spring 2022

Document Type



Master of Science degree with a major in Natural Resources, option Forestry, Watershed, & Wildland Sciences

Committee Chair Name

Erin Kelly

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Mindy Crandall

Second Committee Member Affiliation

Community Member or Outside Professional

Third Committee Member Name

Jennifer Marlow

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Fourth Committee Member Name

James Robbins

Fourth Committee Member Affiliation

Community Member or Outside Professional


Forest policy, Private forests, Private property rights, Public trust doctrine, California, Family forest landowner

Subject Categories



Privately-owned forests in the U.S. provide ecological and socioeconomic benefits to Americans. At the same time, they challenge common law principles that govern the administration of public goods. There is long-standing tension between private property rights, which entitles forest landowners to make land management decisions about their properties, and the role of state governments in protecting public trust resources on behalf of the general public. Each state chooses to protect public trust resources on private lands in a different way, meaning the U.S. is a patchwork of diverse private forest policy approaches. Describing this range of approaches can help inform policy discussions. Researchers typically administer quantitative surveys to identify policy diversity, but few have utilized qualitative methods to characterize policy approaches to forest management on private lands.

This two-part study addresses this gap in literature by sampling the diversity of state-level forest policies present in the U.S. In Chapter 1, I use qualitative interviews with forestry policy experts to provide an in-depth look at different state forest policies across 12 case studies. In Chapter 2, I further explore the California case study to understand its highly regulatory forest policies from a landowner perspective. I interviewed a group of California family forest landowners to understand how they perceive the state’s balance between private property rights and public trust doctrine and how they navigate their regulatory policy environment to successfully achieve their forest management objectives. Examining this cross-section of U.S. forest policy diversity builds additional nuance into traditional frameworks (e.g., voluntary-to-regulatory framings), which allows for key comparisons between states and adds in-depth forest policy expert and landowner perspectives to the body of state-level forest policy literature.

Citation Style

APA (7th edition)

2021 10-16 ltr_common rule_approval_exempt.pdf (399 kB)
IRB approval 20-048

2022 01-12 ltr_common rule_renewal_exempt.pdf (391 kB)
IRB approval 19-095



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