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Information Collection; National Woodland Owner Survey

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Forest Service, USDA.


Notice; request for comment.


In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the Forest Service is seeking comments from all interested individuals and organizations on a previously approved information collection, the National Woodland Owner Survey, which the Forest Service is seeking to reinstate.


Comments must be received in writing on or before January 4, 2010 to be assured of consideration. Comments received after that date will be considered to the extent practicable.


Comments concerning this notice should be addressed to Brett Butler, USDA Forest Service, 160 Holdsworth Way, Amherst, MA 01003.

Comments also may be submitted via facsimile to (413) 545-1860 or by e-mail to

The public may inspect comments received at 160 Holdsworth Way, Room 303, Amherst, MA 01003 during normal business hours. Visitors are encouraged to call ahead to (413) 545-1387 to Start Printed Page 57287facilitate entry to the building. Additionally, comments can be viewed at​nwos.

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Brett Butler, Northern Research Station, (413) 545-1387. Individuals who use telecommunication devices for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Relay Service (FRS) at 1-800-877-8339 twenty-four hours a day, every day of the year, including holidays.

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Title: National Woodland Owner Survey.

OMB Number: 0596-0078.

Expiration Date of Approval: December 31, 2006.

Type of Request: Reinstatement.

Abstract: Of the 751 million acres of forest land in the United States, 56 percent is privately owned. Understanding the attitudes and behaviors of the millions of corporations, families, individuals, Tribes, and other private groups that own forest land is critical for understanding the current and future state of the nation's forests. The Forest Service conducts the National Woodland Owner Survey (NWOS) to increase our understanding of:

  • Who owns these private forests;
  • Why they own it;
  • How they have used it; and
  • How they intend to use it.

This information is used by policy analysts, foresters, educators, and researchers to facilitate the planning and implementation of forest policies and programs.

The Forest Service's direction and authority to conduct the NWOS is from the Forest and Range Land Renewable Resources Planning Act of 1974 and the Forest and Range Land Renewable Resources Act of 1978. These acts assign responsibility for the inventory and assessment of forest and related renewable resources to the Forest Service. Additionally, the importance of an ownership survey in this inventory and assessment process is highlighted in Section 253(c) of the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act of 1998 and the recommendations of the Second Blue Ribbon Panel on the Forest Inventory and Analysis program (FIA).

Previous iterations of the NWOS were conducted in 1978, 1993, and 2002-2006. Approval for the last iteration of the NWOS expired on December 31, 2006. Between 2002 and 2006, the NWOS was implemented on an annual basis to conform to the over-all FIA sampling protocols. As planned, approval for the information collection was allowed to lapse after 2006 to permit a full assessment of the program that has now been completed. If reinstated, the NWOS will operate for another 5-year cycle, and federal approval will be sought as necessary to cover the full survey cycle, before the next full reassessment occurs.

Information will be collected related to:

  • The characteristics of the owners' land holdings;
  • Owners' attitudes and perceptions;
  • Forest use and management activities;
  • Planned uses of the forest land; and
  • Landowner demographics.

The NWOS provides widely cited benchmarks for the number, extent, and characteristics of private forest-land owners of the United States. These results have been used to assess the sustainability of forest resources at national, regional, and state levels; to implement and assess forest-land owner assistance programs; and to answer a variety of questions with topics ranging from fragmentation to the economics of private timber production. This is the only effort to collect in-depth information about private forest landowners at the national scale. It provides longitudinal data to track ownership trends and broad spatial data to allow for comparisons across regions of the country.

The respondents will be a statistically selected group of individuals, families, American Indian Tribes, partnerships, corporations, nonprofit organizations, and other private groups that own forest land in the United States. A well distributed, random set of sampling points has been established across the country. At each point, remote sensing data, such as aerial photographs or satellite imagery, will use to identify forested points. For the forested points, public records will be used to identify the owners of record—the names and addresses of the landowners we will contact. The number of forest-land owners to be contacted in each state will be a function of the number of private forest-land owners and the sampling intensity.

The NWOS will utilize a mixed-mode survey technique involving focus groups, self-administered mail questionnaires, and telephone interviews. Focus groups will be used to test the questionnaire, provide more in-depth understanding of the responses, and to explore new areas of inquiry.

The mail portion of the survey will involve up to four mailings. First, a pre-notice postcard will be sent to all potential respondents describing this information collection and why the information is being collected. Second, a questionnaire with a cover letter and pre-paid return envelope will be mailed to the potential respondents. The cover letter will reiterate the purpose of this information collection and provide the respondents with all legally required information. Third, a reminder will be mailed to thank the respondents and encourage the non-respondents to respond. Those who have yet to respond will be sent a new questionnaire, cover letter, and pre-paid return envelope. Telephone interviews will be used for follow-up with non-respondents.

Forest Service researchers will coordinate all components of this information collection. Focus groups and the mail portion of the survey will be conducted by Forest Service personnel with assistance provided by cooperators, such as university researchers, as appropriate. The telephone follow-ups will be conducted by the National Agricultural Statistics Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture. Data will be compiled and edited by Forest Service personnel. Forest Service researchers and cooperators will analyze the collected data. National, regional, and State-level results will be distributed through print and/or electronic media.

This information collection will generate scientifically-based, statically-reliable, up-to-date information about private forest-land owners in the United States. The results of these efforts will provide more reliable information on this important and dynamic segment of the United States population; thus facilitating more complete assessments of the country's forest resources and improved planning and implementation of forestry programs on both regional and national levels.

Estimate of Annual Burden: 20 minutes.

Type of Respondents: Individuals, families, American Indian Tribes, partnerships, corporations, nonprofit organizations, and other private groups that own forest land.

Estimated Annual Number of Respondents: 7,500.

Estimated Annual Number of Responses per Respondent: 1.

Estimated Total Annual Burden on Respondents: 2,500 hours.

Comment Is Invited

Comment is invited on: (1) Whether this collection of information is necessary for the stated purposes and the proper performance of the functions of the agency, including whether the information will have practical or scientific utility; (2) the accuracy of the agency's estimate of the burden of the collection of information, including the Start Printed Page 57288validity of the methodology and assumptions used; (3) ways to enhance the quality, utility, and clarity of the information to be collected; and (4) ways to minimize the burden of the collection of information on respondents, including the use of automated, electronic, mechanical, or other technological collection techniques or other forms of information technology.

All comments received in response to this notice, including names and addresses when provided, will be a matter of public record. Comments will be summarized and included in the submission request toward Office of Management and Budget approval.

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Dated: October 27, 2009.

Ann Bartuska,

Deputy Chief, Research & Development.

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[FR Doc. E9-26666 Filed 11-4-09; 8:45 am]