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DSL Newsletter
Winter 2008

In this newsletter
 

$27,717,200 Distributed to Schools in January
Common School Fund funds public schools  
Starting Jan. 18, Oregon’s 198 K-12 public school districts will receive nearly $28 million in funds from the Common School Fund (CSF), a fund established at statehood and managed by the Department of State Lands.
 
This year, CSF distributions will top $55 million, a 14 percent increase over 2007, and a 57 percent increase over 2000 distributions. Earnings from the fund are distributed twice yearly to all public school districts in Oregon.
 
“Every dollar helps Oregon schools – it’s just that simple,” said DSL Director Louise Solliday. “My goal is for citizens throughout the state to understand the Common School Fund and DSL’s role in supporting Oregon’s schoolchildren from generation to generation.” 
 
The State Treasurer and Oregon Investment Council invest the fund. About three-fourths of the fund’s annual revenues are from investment earnings; 17 percent is from timber sales (primarily from harvests on the DSL-owned Elliott State Forest near Coos Bay); and the rest is from a variety of land management activities. In addition, unclaimed property receipts are held in trust in the CSF, boosting the fund’s principal.
 
“The amount we received last year from the Common School Fund is equivalent to funding approximately 11 full-time teaching positions in Corvallis,” said Kathy Rodeman, the district’s business services director. “It’s not an insignificant amount of money.” Rodeman pointed out the state considers CSF funds to be “local revenue” in the state funding formula, and that the funds are not tracked separately from their total local revenue.  
 
The market value of the CSF is now over $1 billion. As the fund grows, so do distributions to Oregon school districts.
 
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Outreach Benefits Estates Program in 2007
Estate auction in Portland  
With two additional employees and focused outreach, DSL’s Estates Program staff administered 25 percent more estates in 2007 compared to 2006.
 
“We responded to more cases and worked hard to connect with government agencies, funeral homes, medical examiners and others across Oregon who come into contact with decedents who have no will and no known heirs,” said estates program manager Pamela Konstantopoulos. “We welcome this increased workload, as it means we’re doing a better job of communicating about our program and making sure estates are being safeguarded.”
 
Oregon's Constitution directs the Department of State Lands to act as personal representative for estates for which there is no will and no known heir, and to reunite the estate with legal heirs whenever possible. In recent months, estates staff have successfully reunited at least one rightful heir a month with decedents’ assets, in many cases after years of separation, said Konstantopoulos.
 
DSL also acts to protect and safeguard the interests of “missing heirs” who are entitled to a portion of an estate, and administers estates to completion, paying creditors from the liquidated assets of the estate.
 
Real estate and some personal property are liquidated through public auctions overseen by DSL estates staff. “Since July 2006, gross proceeds in excess of $2.1 million have been generated by auctions to the benefit of individual estates and to the ultimate benefit of their creditors and other claimants,” said Konstantopoulos.
 
The Department holds estates in trust for 10 years within the Common School Fund. If no heirs are located within that claim period, the proceeds from the estate permanently escheat to the fund.
 
More information, including an email sign-up list for auction notices, is available on the DSL Web site, or by calling Estates Coordinator Wayne Smith, 503-986-5287.
 
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Propiedades sin Reclamar
Unclaimed property brocure in Spanish  
Unclaimed Property information is now available in Spanish to assist Spanish-speaking people understand the process to search for unclaimed property.
 
With help from the Oregon Employment Department’s Limited English Proficiency staff, DSL recently produced Web materials and a new brochure, and will begin media and consumer outreach this winter.
 
“Reaching out to Oregon’s Spanish-speaking community has been a goal of the Unclaimed Property Program for many years,” said Cynthia Wickham, program manager. “We’re very excited to take this first step.”
 
According to Wickham, very few other states offer unclaimed property information in Spanish on their Web sites, making Oregon “a leader in our efforts to communicate with this important population,” she said.
 
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Mark Your Calendars! January 26 Public Auction
Unclaimed property auction  
“A little bit of everything” is how Cynthia Wickham, DSL unclaimed property manager, characterizes the contents of an upcoming public auction. “We’re offering some nice coins and jewelry as well as collectible stamps and sports trading cards.”
 
The public oral auction will be held Jan. 26 at Parrish Middle School in Salem, 802 Capitol St. NE, starting at 9:30 a.m. An auction preview is scheduled for Friday, Jan. 25, 3:00 – 7:00 p.m. at Parrish. An additional preview will precede the auction on Saturday, beginning at 8:00 a.m.
 
Every year, DSL receives hundreds of boxes, envelopes and packages containing the contents of abandoned safe deposit boxes. Financial institutions must turn over the contents to the state when owners have not kept up rental payments and when they are not able to be located.
 
Unclaimed property staff looks for owners by posting their names on DSL’s searchable database on the Web and by performing some specialized individual searches. Any contents that haven't been claimed within two years are sold at public auction.
 
The most recent auction, held in March 2007, generated in excess of $90,000 in gross receipts, said Wickham. “The school cafeteria was at capacity last year, with more than 300 attendees,” she said.
 
All proceeds from safe-deposit box auctions are held in trust in the Common School Fund and made available for claim by rightful owners at any time in the future. The fund sends twice-yearly distributions to all of Oregon’s K-12 public schools. In 2007, nearly $50 million was sent to Oregon’s 198 districts.
 
The Jan. 26 auction will be conducted by Liska Auctioneers. Additional information, including an auction catalog, is available from Liska (http://www.liska-auctioneers.com/JAN26t.htm; 1-800-866-8567) and from DSL (www.oregonstatelands.us; 503-986-5200.)
 
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State Land Board Awards
State Land Board awards  
Nominations are now being accepted for the annual Land Board Awards in three categories:
 
State Land Board Stream Project
 
State Land Board Wetland Project
 
State Land Board Partnership Award - new!
 
Each award has a separate nomination form and criteria. All nominations are due February 15.
 
Nominations are reviewed by a committee of DSL staff, Land Board member representatives and representatives of organizations affiliated with the topic of the award.
 
Winners will be notified in March, and this year's awards will be presented at the April 8 Land Board public meeting.
 
For more information, go the DSL Web site or contact Julie Curtis, DSL communications manager.
 
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Land Management Updates
Stevens Road Tract  
Land Assets: Asset management staff are actively managing projects within DSL's real estate portfolio to build the Common School Fund through investments and sales:
 
First-phase master planning for the Stevens Road Tract, a 640-acre site at the southeast edge of Bend, has been completed.  DSL continues to work with the city to bring the property into the Urban Growth Boundary so the tract's mixed-use development, including affordable housing, can begin.
 
Twenty-four parcels of unleased rangeland and forestland in northeast Oregon are being prepared for disposal, with an auction to be scheduled this spring.
 
The 40-acre Ward Road parcel east of Bend will be DSL's most recent land development project, and features five 3-acre home sites and about 25 acres for conservation and future development.
 
DSL is in the process of selling the Eight Dollar Mountain Tract, a 640-acre parcel near Cave Junction, to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.  The parcel is a registered Oregon Natural Heritage Site, is surrounded by federal forestland, and contains rare serpentine soils and a number of rare plant species.
 
The Asset Management Plan provides guidance for all these activities. Contact John Lilly, asset manager, for additional information.
 
Snake River Project: As part of DSL's waterway authorization program, eastern region staff completed an inventory of approximately 400 structures on the Snake River in Malheur County during summer 2007. Approximately 100 people participated in two public open houses in Ontario and Nyssa in November that provided property owners with information on the registration program and application process. A second workshop is scheduled for Jan. 17. Primary uses on the Snake that require a waterway authorization from DSL are irrigation systems, riprap, private docks and public facilities. All revenues generated from DSL's land management activities are deposited into the Common School Fund. In 2007, fund distributions to schools in Malheur County totaled $442,068. More information is available from the DSL Eastern Region Office in Bend, 541-388-6112, ext. 221.
 
Rogue River Study: After receiving more than 180 comments from the public, DSL staff are revising the Rogue River Draft Navigability Study Report, which will be available in mid-February. A special Land Board meeting will be held in Medford on March 19 to discuss the report and take additional public comments. The Land Board is expected to make a decision on the river’s 89-mile study segment (Grave Creek to Lost Creek Dam) at their regular meeting on June 10 in Salem. More information is available on the DSL Web site or from Jeff Kroft, DSL’s senior policy specialist.
 
New Publications: In cooperation with the Oregon State Marine Board, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and State Parks, DSL recently produced a brochure on waterway navigability, focusing on the public’s rights to use the beds and banks of Oregon’s waterways. The brochure and a new one-page fact sheet are available on the DSL Web site or by contacting Julie Curtis, DSL communications manager.
 
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New Wetland Report Fee Effective January 1
wetland  
The 2007 Legislature established a new fee for wetland delineation report reviews, which is now in effect. The $350 fee must be submitted with the report for it to be deemed complete.
 
The new fee allows DSL to fund two new wetlands staff to expedite the review process for all reports. The $350 fee is in addition to a removal-fill permit fee if a permit is needed.
 
“The new fee and staff will enable us to review wetland reports more quickly, providing better service and more certainty for developers and others who submit reports for DSL approval,” said DSL Wetlands Program Manager Janet Morlan. DSL has not added new wetlands staff since 1993, yet the demand for services has increased more than 250% since that time, she said.
 
The wetland review fee will be annually adjusted, starting January 1, 2009, according to the Consumer Price Index for Oregon and Washington. The re-submittal of a rejected report that is revised to meet requirements will be subject to an additional $100 fee.
 
More information is available from Janet Morlan.
 
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Mitigation Bank Enhances Habitat Corridor in Valley
Muddy Creek mitigation bank  
A team of entrepreneurs and ecologists is restoring a 108-acre commercial grass seed farm to its former wetland function along the Muddy Creek floodplain near the Finley Wildlife Refuge north of Monroe.
 
When the restoration is complete, the Muddy Creek Wetland Mitigation Bank will be a mosaic of riparian forest, wetland prairie grassland and shallow-water wetlands, and link to other projects along the creek that protect habitat on public and private lands.
 
“The restoration of marginal farmland back to its historic state will yield very high wetland functional benefits within the Muddy Creek Watershed,” said bank sponsor Chris Kiilsgaard. “The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has identified the Muddy Creek corridor as having high ecological importance because of the nearby Finley Wildlife Refuge and the presence of several threatened and endangered plants and the threatened Oregon chub,” he said.
 
“This bank will provide much-needed mitigation options for development projects in this growing area of the state,” said DSL Director Louise Solliday. “We expect this bank will be a successful venture for the sponsors, as well as ecologically successful in helping meet Oregon’s statewide goal of no net loss of wetlands.”
 
The sponsors anticipate a total of 60 credits will be generated by the wetland restoration, creation and enhancement activities. One credit is equivalent to one acre of wetland impact. The new bank is the 14th wetland mitigation bank approved in Oregon.
 
More information about mitigation banks is available from Dana Field, DSL’s mitigation specialist.
 
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DSL Grant Funds Tualatin River Project
Tualatin River project  
With renewed momentum and a dedicated staff person to oversee the process, DSL’s Wetland Grant Program (or “payment in lieu” program) is off to a great start for the 2007-09 biennium.
 
“The first grant of this year – a restoration project along the Tualatin River near Sherwood – is approved for implementation this summer,” said Lori Warner-Dickason, DSL’s western region manager in the Wetlands and Waterways Conservation Division.
 
Funds for the grant program come from permitted wetland impacts, and are used for restoration projects that satisfy wetland mitigation requirements.
 
The Tualatin River project includes the potential restoration of 24 acres of former wetlands along the river acquired by Metro through their voter-approved land acquisition program.
 
“The Tualatin River’s water quality and wildlife will both benefit from this wetland restoration project,” said Metro Councilor Kathryn Harrington. “The partnership we’ve established among many organizations, including Metro’s Natural Areas Program, the Department of State Lands, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Tualatin Riverkeepers, Tualatin Soil and Water Conservation District and Ash Creek Consulting has created a unique opportunity to restore this wetland now.”
 
Working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, DSL’s goal is to create a program that satisfies both federal and state mitigation requirements. “Currently, the payment-in-lieu option only satisfies state requirements, which limits the kinds of projects DSL is able to serve with this program,” said Warner-Dickason. “We’ve redesigned our process to incorporate pending federal mitigation rules in hopes of meeting federal standards.”
 
DSL is actively recruiting more grant applications for the fund, particularly in the Lower Columbia, Middle Rogue, Coast Fork Willamette, Umpqua and Coos watersheds. Click here for project criteria and application requirements, or contact Lori Warner-Dickason.
 
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Flooding Fact Sheet Developed
flood waters  
In response to recent flooding in western Oregon, DSL has created a fact sheet designed to walk people through common requirements for dealing with flood damage and debris removal from Oregon's streams, rivers and other waterways.
 
The Department has jurisdiction over removal-fill activities in “waters of the state” including all tidal and non-tidal bays, perennial and intermittent streams, lakes, wetlands and other navigable and non-navigable waters, including the Territorial Sea.
 
“While we understand that securing a state permit is probably not tops on people's minds when dealing with a flood situation, it's important to provide all the help we can - hopefully before a flood occurs - so that property owners have resources and tools available to them,” said DSL's Wetlands and Waterways Conservation Assistant Director Kevin Moynahan.
 
More information on emergency authorizations is available on the DSL Web site.
 
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Removal-Fill Rule Changes
Waters of the state  
The Department of State Lands had legislation passed in 2007 (House Bills 2105 and 2106) to establish a new fee for general authorizations, increase fees for removal-fill permits, establish a new fee for wetland delineation reviews and set new timelines for agency reviews.
 
After public review and comment, DSL adopted changes to OARs 141-085, 141-089 and 141-102: Issuance and Enforcement of Removal-Fill Authorizations; and 141-090: Wetland Delineation Report Requirements, Jurisdictional Determinations.
 
In addition, DSL cleaned up confusing or conflicting language in the removal-fill rules during the public input and review process.
 
The final rules - which have been sent to the Secretary of State for filing - are effective January 1, 2008. Click here for additional information or contact Eric Metz.
 
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Contact Information:
 
Julie Curtis
Oregon Department of State Lands
775 Summer St., NE, Suite 100
Salem, OR 97301-1279
julie.curtis@dsl.state.or.us
503-986-5298
 
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