States invest in private forest-lands by providing protection from wildfire, insects, and disease and also by providing technical and financial assistance to private owners. In addition, states and municipalities are themselves forest landowners, with objectives and investment behaviors that vary as widely as those of industrial or nonindustrial forest landowners (Souder and Fairfax 1995). Little information is available on trends in investments on these lands. For the period for which data are available (1978-1987), state funding of forestry programs increased substantially in nominal-dollar terms, although in real terms state revenue decreased somewhat or, at best, remained stable (Table A-25).
States with the most rapid increases in forestry budgets were in the South, Midwest, and Mountain regions; those with the most rapid decreases were in the Northeast and the West Coast. The differences largely reflect the general economic climate of the region. Although real-dollar state forestry budgets (excluding federal funds) were stable or slightly reduced, they increasingly accounted for less of the states' natural-resource budget (which increased 20 percent from 1978 to 1987 real dollars) and less of the state budgets generally (Lickwar et al. 1988). Evidence also suggests that state forestry agencies that are part of a larger environmental regulatory administration have had substantially reduced budget allocations (Hacker and Ellefson 1996).
Public investments in cost-share programs and technical assistance are important, yet they are quite modest to many. Whether the amount of public investment in such programs is sufficient to be effective is questionable. For example, the federal Forestry Incentive Program enabled reforestation of 2,789,000 acres from 1975 to 1993 (at a federal cost share of nearly $156 million) or 155,00 acres per year (Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service 1993). However, in 1987, an economic opportunity developed (treatment yielding four percent or more) to have 47 million acres of nonindustrial private forest regenerated (USDA Forest Service 1989). Similarly, the Stewardship Incentives Program in 1992 assisted 579 persons in developing stewardship incentive plans covering 89,541 acres at a federal cost share of $293,000 (Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service 1993). The number of persons involved in these programs is small in comparison to the 9.9 million nonindustrial forest owners who own 353 million acres of forest in the United States. At a rate of new plans covering 89,000 acres of forest each year, it will take many decades to have plans covering even a small portion of the nation's nonindustrial private forestland. The programs used as examples here are not the only federal cost-share programs devoted to private forestry. The size of the federal effort is larger than that but