Campus: Cal Poly San Luis Obispo -- June 30, 2004

Cal Poly’s Swanton Pacific Ranch Receives International Sustainable Forestry Designation

Cal Poly’s Swanton Pacific Ranch has just earned a top designation for its responsible forestry practices from the international Forest Stewardship Council. Cal Poly is only the fourth university in the United States to earn the honor, and the first on the West Coast.

The Forest Stewardship Council, an international non profit environmental group headquartered in Bonn, Germany, has designated Swanton Pacific Ranch in Santa Cruz County as a Well Managed Forest. The designation came after a year-long certification evaluation by Scientific Certification Systems, one of the accreditation agencies of the FSC. The ranch is used as a “living lab” for the Cal Poly College of Agriculture.

“Basically the ‘Well Managed Forest’ designation means we have sustainable forestry practices, and all of our timber products are ‘green’ and ‘green harvested,’ ” explained Cal Poly Natural Resources Management Professor Walter Mark, former director of Cal Poly’s Swanton Pacific Ranch operations.

“We consider this very significant, given that our main objective at Swanton is to demonstrate sustainable forestry and natural resources management practices, and to give our students ‘hands on, learn-by-doing’ experience in those practices,” Mark said.

The ranch contains roughly 2,100 acres of forest, including redwood and Douglas fir and some Monterey pine. The ranch conducts limited logging operations, selling mostly to Big Creek Lumber, Mark said.

Cal Poly is the first university west of the Mississippi to earn the environmental designation, and only the fourth university in the entire United States to do so. Yale, Duke, and Paul Smith’s College also hold the designation for forests in their land holdings.

“Independent certification confirms that the Swanton Pacific Ranch is being managed in the long-term interest of both the environment and the educational mission of the property,” said Dr. Robert Hrubes, SCS’s Senior Vice President and a registered professional forester. “The Ranch is a model of responsible forestry. Certification provides an additional tool to market the products from forest, and demonstrate to future generations that Cal Poly’s ‘learn by doing’ philosophy is a reality,” said Hrubes.

About the “Well Managed Forest” Designation
Scientific Certifications Systems conducted a detailed evaluation of all Swanton properties and their agricultural and educational operations, including its forest areas and timber harvesting practices. The evaluation included a thorough review of environmental, social and economic factors involved in Swanton’s operation.

“Among other findings, the evaluation team determined that the Swanton Ranch management plans were very comprehensive and based on detailed resource inventories, and that safeguards were in place to protect rare, threatened, and endangered species,” said Jeff Stephens of SCS.

The audit and review included Cal Poly’s management of:
• Whole-forest and resource issues
• Waterways and watersheds
• Ranch wildlife
• Ranch plant life
• “Good neighbor” relationships with surrounding properties and the community

As part of the certification from the Forest Stewardship Council, Cal Poly agreed to ongoing, annual evaluations by SCS and a similar extensive audit every five years.

For more information about SCS, including the Cal Poly Swanton Pacific Ranch report, contact Stephens at (510) 452-8003 or (510) 919-0499 or visit the SCS Web site

For more information about the Forest Stewardship Council, visit its Web site at

About the Swanton Pacific Ranch
The Cal Poly Foundation owns the 3,200-acre Swanton Pacific Ranch and nearby 600-acre Valencia Creek property, donated by the late Al Smith, a university alumnus and founder of Orchard Supply Hardware. The Cal Poly College of Agriculture uses the ranch as a living lab for students of several departments and programs, including forestry and natural resources and animal science. The ranch also hosts an organic farm and a cattle operation as “living labs” for students.

For more details on Swanton Pacific Ranch and its programs, visit its Web site at

For more details on the Cal Poly College of Agriculture, visit its Web site at


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