|Abstract or Summary
- Sustained yield units (SYU' s), implemented around 1950, required that National Forest timber harvested from a designated area had to be processed in a specific local community. Six units were created for the purpose of promoting community stability, a
concept often measured in economic terms. Forest policies designed to aid communities
have moved away from SYU's. Today's policies include a broader notion of community well-being, and emphasize nurturing a community's internal ability to accomplish its goals. Still, some communities are asking that the SYU idea be revisited. A qualitative, exploratory study of the Lakeview (Oregon) and Big Valley (California) units was undertaken. The overall objective of the study was to provide insight into whether or not the sustained yield unit policy would be effective in meeting current objectives for forest-based communities. It was also intended to add to our knowledge of the relationship between forest policies and forest-based communities. Interviews were conducted with key informants in the two study areas. Data from interviews were supplemented with data from existing sources.
The main theme that emerged from the Lakeview unit was that the SYU had interacted with other factors in the community to improve the local quality of life. Respondents identified many positive relationships between the SYU and local services, businesses, and community involvement. At the same time, they emphasized that the communities in the unit had many positive attributes prior to the establishment of the unit and that these attributes also had a positive influence on the local quality of life. The data did not show evidence that the SYTJ "created," for example, social capital. What was already in place in the local community was a key factor. The main theme that emerged from interviews with Big Valley residents was that
the SYU enabled the valley to maintain a mill. The SYU had done so by protecting the
local mill from competition. Big Valley respondents described a fairly simple relationship between the SYU, the maintenance of the mill, and associated employment and income provided because the mill was still in business. Some of the perceptions respondents held regarding changes in or the health of
their communities were compared to quantitative data. The perceptions and quantitative indicators were not consistent. These comparisons suggested that either people's perceptions were not accurate, or that more appropriate quantitative indicators, which correspond to the same phenomenon people discussed, need to be identified. Still, people's perceptions are considered important sources of information.
Results from the study indicate that sustained yield units have at least the potential to contribute positively to community well-being. However, the effects of SYU's are best looked at in the context of many other factors that are a part of the local community, as well as larger external factors affecting the community. Baseline conditions, changing conditions, and the SYU all interact and influence community well-being. This study points to several areas for further research, such as comparing the development of SYU and non-SYU communities. It also points to the need to understand the relationship between the perceptions of forest-based communities' residents and the quantitative indicators often used by researchers when studying change in these communities.