November 23, 2015

Cal Poly — Matt Lazier
Media Relations Director

U.S. Forest Service — Peter Stine
Director of Partnerships and Collaboration
Pacific Southwest Research Station

Cal Poly’s Swanton Pacific Ranch Joins US Forest Service Research Program

Agreement will expand climate change research at Santa Cruz property as it joins 80 experimental forests in the U.S.

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Cal Poly and the USDA Forest Service recently signed an agreement to include the university’s Swanton Pacific Ranch near Santa Cruz, Calif., in the federal Experimental Forests and Ranges program. The U.S. Forest Service’s system of Experimental Forests and Ranges provides places specifically designated and administered to enable the research necessary for developing improved methods of forest management.

The five-year agreement between Cal Poly’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences and the Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Research Station will facilitate an increase in research projects at the 3,200-acre Swanton Pacific Ranch, aimed largely at monitoring and attempting to predict the effects of climate change on the nations farm, range and forest lands.

“This is a mutually beneficial agreement that creates the potential for exciting collaborative research with the Forest Service and other experimental forests, and with other nearby universities,” said Swanton Pacific Ranch Director Brian Dietterick, a researcher in hydrology and watershed management and professor in Cal Poly’s Natural Resources Management and Environmental Sciences Department.

“We are thrilled with the opportunity this will present for our students, faculty and staff to become involved in even more Learn by Doing projects aimed at solving real-world problems.”

In the memorandum of understanding signed earlier this month, Swanton Pacific Ranch joins 80 experimental forests nationwide, including 12 others in California, in the more than 100-year-old federal program. Swanton Pacific will help fill some significant gaps in the program’s research efforts.

“Swanton Pacific is situated in an ecoregion where we do not yet have any other experimental forests,” said Peter Stine, director of partnerships and collaboration with the Pacific Southwest Research Station.” Cal Poly’s existing operation of the ranch as a hands-on research and teaching facility means it’s already well-suited for the kind of work that’s done at our experimental forests.”

Swanton Pacific has a rare confluence of significant portions of farm, range and forest lands, which will present opportunities in all three of the USDA’s key research areas, said Stine. Swanton Pacific’s large redwood forest will present essential collaborative research opportunities with two other experimental redwood stands near Fort Bragg and Arcata in Northern California.

Cal Poly and the Forest Service have been discussing the agreement for about three years. While the Forest Service has collaboration agreements with a couple of other universities on the East Coast, Swanton Pacific Ranch is the first university-owned property to become part of the federal Experimental Forests and Ranges program.

About the USDA Forest Service’s Experimental Forests and Ranges
The USDA Forest Service’s system of Experimental Forests and Ranges provides a wealth of records and knowledge of environmental change in natural and managed forest and rangeland ecosystems across the nation. The system of 80 Experimental Forests and Ranges has been established progressively since 1908; many sites are more than 50 years old. The system provides places for long-term science and management studies in major vegetation types of the 195 million acres of public land administered by the Forest Service. For more on the program, visit:

About Swanton Pacific Ranch
Swanton Pacific Ranch is a 3,200-acre landscape composed of a majestic redwood forest, lush riverine ecosystems and expansive coastal grassland overlooking the bay and the Pacific Ocean just north of Santa Cruz along California’s scenic Highway 1. Recognized for its high biodiversity and abundant resources, the ranch provides a valuable opportunity to study the methods of resource conservation applied through sustainable management techniques. The late Al Smith, a Cal Poly graduate and founder of Orchard Supply Hardware, donated the ranch to Cal Poly in 1993. For more on the ranch, visit:

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