CORVALLIS - The College of Forestry at Oregon State University has chosen John C. Bliss, an expert in working with owners of nonindustrial forests, to launch a new program focused on family and private forestry.

Bliss will hold the college's first endowed chair, the Starker Chair in Private and Family Forestry. It was made possible by the gift of a 260-acre demonstration forest from Elizabeth Starker Cameron of Corvallis. Ongoing revenues from this tract will fund the work of the new program, which will include research and Extension outreach on issues of private forest management.

Bliss most recently taught and conducted research at Auburn University on the social aspects of private forest ownership, management and policy. He will begin his OSU position in April.

Cameron is a member of the Starker family of Corvallis, which owns Starker Forests, Inc. The firm manages about 63,000 acres of forest land in the central Oregon Coast Range.

"We are pleased to see the College of Forestry moving forward with this program and bringing a person of Dr. Bliss's caliber to OSU," said Bond Starker of Starker Forests. "Oregon's private lands, and in particular Oregon's family-owned small woodlands, are becoming even more important to our state's economic and social fabric now that harvests from federal lands have been so dramatically reduced.

"We believe Dr. Bliss has the background to work well with private owners and to understand and explain their economic and social motivations in a way that will help Oregon develop good public policy," he said.

Bliss received his doctorate from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. With expertise in both forestry and cultural anthropology, he has worked as a field forester, forest ranger, and served with his wife, Kerry, in the Peace Corps in Afghanistan in 1974-76.

"I thought it was intriguing that Oregon, a state dominated by public forests, is the first to give this kind of prominence to issues of private forestry," Bliss said. "It's a very foresighted move on the part of the Starker family and the university."

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George Brown, 541-737-2221