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To provide Cal Poly students, faculty, staff and the public with a unique interdisciplinary environment in which to foster the Learn by Doing philosophy by providing educational experiences on a working ranch, supporting diversified agriculture and forest resources while maintaining the integrity of ranch operations.

  —Our Mission

NR 475

Sustainable Forestry & Environmental Practices
NR 475

Course Overview

Sustainable Forestry and Environmental Practices is offered as a 4-week, 12-unit field-based course during the summer quarter. This course is required for students in the Forest Resources Management concentration; however, this course will greatly benefit students studying different aspects of natural resource and environmental management. The course presents a series of topics pertinent to the development and review of a Timber Harvest Management Plan (THP).

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Industry and Agency Professional Oversight

The course is delivered by leading resource management professionals, who contribute their on-the-ground perspectives regarding effective and informed land management. More than 40 resource managers, planners and agency professionals involved in the process of Timber Harvest Management Plan writing, field preparation and review. These professionals also attend class and field-based training to assist in the delivery of information and provide informed feedback to assist students during class activities.

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Field and Classroom-based Training

Course work includes classroom-based introduction to topics involved in the development of a Timber Harvest Management Plan (THP) and are followed by field-based activities necessary for gaining technical skills and data included in the THP development and for the process of preparing the landscape for a timber harvest. Topic areas range from resource inventory, timber harvesting practices, permitting and regulations and environmental and cultural protection measures. In addition to the time spent on-site and in the field, students will also travel on a field trip through northern California to gain their own unique perspective of various harvest practices and monitoring efforts implemented throughout the state.

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Informational Meetings

This is an opportunity to gain insight to the course structure, meet and interact with fellow students and the course instructor. These periodic meetings will help students gain information for coordination with your major professor and prepare you for a summer of learning and career enriching activities. Meetings are announced through email or in classes.

Student Testimonials

"Focused, well planned, extremely interactive, provided incredible opportunity, and made great connection with people in many fields".

"I think it was the best class I've ever taken. Soon after hearing the presentations I was totally inspired to get my RPF".

"I felt the class was a great opportunity and very valuable to my future. The best class I've ever taken both educationally and recreationally".

"I enjoyed it a lot. It gave me a head start with my career in forestry".

"Excellent class! It was great to be introduced to industry professionals and very practical coursework".

"It's made me a better student and pushed my limits. I'll be better for it".

"Great! I learned so much and the diverse lectures kept my interest".

Professional Testimonials

"This class is exactly what Al Smith would have wanted". -Eric Huff, Executive Officer Forest, BOF

A recent article, NR 475: Learning by Doing at Cal Poly's Swanton-Pacific Ranch featured the course as a valuable contribution to forestry education in California, "What sets this course apart from the standard forestry curricula is that students are immersed in the real-life world of timber harvesting in this state. They work in groups to develop a harvesting plan that they will later have to defend in a mock pre-harvest inspection conducted by actual agency review team members, providing the students with a social perspective that could not be taught so effectively any other way".
-Licensing News, Volume 24 - Issue 2, Board of Forestry and Fire Protection, Professional Foresters Registration Program, Fall 2009

"The program works very well. Great setting, well prepared and engaged students, facilities and equipment were excellent". -Mark Stopher, Environmental Program Manager, CDF&G

"I appreciate the opportunity to share my experience, philosophy and opinions with the motivated and focused 475 students. I appreciated their attention". -David Van Lennep, Redwood Empire Sawmills

"Teaching facilities, field sites, accommodations, support, curriculum, students and camaraderie all were excellent". -Dr. Ron Taskey, Soil Scientist

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