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Land Sell-Off Brings Scrutiny To Planning The Elliott State Forest's Future

Elliott State Forest
Oregon Department of Forestry
Elliott State Forest

The Oregon State Land Board is meeting in Salem Tuesday to discuss options for increasing revenues from the Elliott State Forest. Keeping the forest in public or tribal hands tops the list.

But Oregon Department of State Lands spokeswoman Julie Curtis does warn that future land sales are not completely off the table.

Earlier this year, the State Land Board decided to sell off parcels of the forest to timber companies. This sparked outrage from environmental groups and broad calls to keep the forest under public control.

In response to public opposition, the current recommendations do not include auctioning off parcels. But they do leave the door open for ownership by Native American tribes or public/private partnerships.

Options put forward for the Oregon State Land Board's consideration include:

Request Proposals for Management. The state would continue to own the property as a Common School Fund asset, but the Department would seek proposals from any interested party to manage the land in a manner that fulfills the long-term trust responsibility and meets all state and federal environmental laws.

Continued Management by the Department of Forestry. The state would continue to own the property as a Common School Fund asset and would request the Department of Forestry to continue to pursue a management compromise with the federal agencies responsible for protected species oversight.

Request Proposals for Ownership. The Department would seek proposals from interested parties for a process to move as much of the property as possible to ownership by another public entity (i.e. local, state, federal or tribal ownership) or a public/private combination.

Federal or Tribal Transfer. The Department would directly negotiate a federal or tribal acquisition (or exchange) of all or part of the property.

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Jes Burns is a reporter for OPB's Science & Environment unit. Jes has a degree in English literature from Duke University and a master's degree from the University of Oregon's School of Journalism and Communications.