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Oregon Land Board Ponders Future Of Elliott Forest

A large state-owned forest in Oregon might end up in new hands.

The State Land Board Tuesday endorsed a proposal to transfer ownership of the Elliott State Forest. But it's not clear who the new owners would be.

The southwest Oregon forest is supposed to be managed to bring in as much money as possible. And that money is supposed to go to public schools.

But the forest is actually losing money in the wake of restrictions on logging. The State Land Board ditched a plan to sell the forest to private timber companies. Now, members are backing a proposal to find new public owners…ones who wouldn't be bound by law to maximize revenue for schools.

Some environmental groups are pleased with the shift.

"It's time to modernize the system where we don't pit clear-cutting our old growth forests with critical school funding,” said Cascadia Wildlands’s Josh Laughlin.

The new owners would still be bound by laws meant to protect endangered species of birds and salmon.

Protestors demonstrated in front of the capitol prior to the meeting of the State Land Board.
Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network
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Northwest News Network
Protestors demonstrated in front of the capitol prior to the meeting of the State Land Board.

Copyright 2014 Northwest News Network

Chris Lehman covers the Oregon state capitol for JPR as part of the Northwest News Network, a group of 12 Northwest public radio organizations which collaborate on regional news coverage. Chris graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He began his career producing arts features for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana and has been a reporter/announcer for NPR station WNIJ in DeKalb, Illinois. Chris has also reported from overseas, filing stories from Iraq, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Uganda.
Chris Lehman
Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.