OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

2013/2014: Interpretation and Outeach

 Interpertative Signs 

   The College Forests recreation staff also played a central role in the development of new interpertation signs for the south end of the tract. A team of OSU students in the graphic design school designed the displays. The signs will provide visitors to the Cameron Tract with a very basic overview of the activities that have been taking place and direct them to the Cameron Tract website for information on the demonstration projects.

     Effective interpretative displays convey effective information through limited text and helpful images. Successful signs are informative, yet visually pleasing and thought-provoking. It was difficult for me to efficiently articulate educational information in a condensed manner using such limited text. The information also had to be very basic without assuming any prior knowledge of forestry practices by the viewer. The students on the project opted to use info-graphics along with text and pictures to tell the story of the Cameron Tract and subsequently provide a clear message for small woodland owners.

     The signage itself also functions as a demonstration. Interpretative signs or interactive displays may not be an undertaking a small woodland owner would initially consider, but even a small, basic exhibit can have lasting benefits. An interpretation display does not just provide facts, but tells a story and can spark interest in a particular subject or enjoyment for a visitor. A display or signboard can keep neighbors and the adjacent community informed about what management activities are being conducted on a woodland owners property. They can also function as an educational tool for other forestland owners interesting in conducting management activities by discussing what actions may have successful and what was not. The Oregon Small Woodlands Association in Western Oregon is very connected through an active network of individuals who organize community meetings and newsletters about forest management issues. Where such an organization does not exist, an interpretative display could be the only networking tool available linking small woodland owners.  Interpretative displays can enhance communication and idea sharing throughout many kinds of networks.

     A small land owner’s interpretative display doesn’t have to be as elaborate as those on the Cameron Tract. An effective display could be as simple as a homemade signboard with a map and description of management activities. Graphic designers can be expensive and we enlisted the help of students at the design school on campus to curtail this expense. Reaching out to an education facility such as a university with a design school could be an option for a small woodland owner. Checking out other similar displays in the local area can provide ideas and inspiration as well. The Forest Service and other state and federal land management agencies have guides on their website to assist with sign design, content, and building that are free and very comprehensive.

 Twilight Tour

        During the pole harvest operations, the community was invited to tour the site and learn about conducting a utility pole sale as well as the earlier road construction work.  Nearly thirty people attended. Steve Pilkerton, an OSU College Forests engineer and Brad Withrow-Robinson of OSU Extension Services kicked off the tour by detailing the history of the property and explaining how this pole sale and road reconstruction functioned as a demonstration project. On hand as resources to answer questions for the small woodland owners in attendance were the pole buyers from Pacific Enterprises and the loggers from Cross and Crown. They discussed stand characteristics that comprised a pole sale and what type of tree makes an ideal utility pole. At this point in the operation, almost half the trees had been felled but many were still standing, allowing the tour attendees to view all stages of the harvest process. For the tour, special attention was made to invite both small woodland owners and adjacent Soap Creek residents.