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DSL Newsletter
Spring 2008

In this newsletter
 

DSL Submits Legislative Concepts for 2009 Session
Oregon Department of State Lands  
The Department of State Lands recently sent seven concepts to Legislative Counsel for drafting:
  • Moving the Oregon Natural Heritage Program to State Parks.
  • Allowing DSL to impose civil penalties for trespass and other violations on uplands.
  • Transferring the Unclaimed Property Section to the State Treasurer's Office.
  • Providing consistency for rulemaking authority within the department.
  • Protecting confidentiality for estates.
  • Making changes to the removal-fill statutes to clarify certain provisions.
  • Adding “waters of the state” to mitigation banking authority to expand the program beyond wetlands.
“These proposed legislative actions are designed to improve DSL's work and how we deliver services to the citizens of Oregon,” said Louise Solliday, DSL director. “We'll be contacting our various constituencies to provide more information as we get closer to the 2009 session.”
 
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New Carissa Removal
New Carissa Shipwreck  
Beginning in March with the arrival of two jack-up barges, work has begun in Coos Bay on the many facets of removing the remains of the wood-chip freighter that ran aground on Oregon’s shores in February 1999.
 
In May 2007, the Department of State Lands signed a $16.4 million contract with Titan, a worldwide marine salvage and shipwreck company, to remove the wreckage of the ship. All monies for the removal come from the jury award paid by the ship’s owners, Green Atlas Shipping Co.
 
The work involves placing two barges on either side of the wreck, located in the surf zone off the North Spit near Coos Bay, and using 300-ton hydraulic pullers to “roll and cut” the wreck. All scrap metal will be stored on the barges and recycled at an appropriate facility on the West Coast after the job is complete.
 
Check the DSL Web site for regular updates on the removal process, which must be completed by Oct. 1, 2008.
 
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Rogue River Study in Final Stages
Rogue River  
After two years of research, two public hearings, one informational open house, two public comment periods and hundreds of emails, letters and phone calls, DSL staff is preparing the final Rogue River Navigability Study for consideration by the State Land Board at their June 10 meeting.
 
“This process has been extensive, involving many conversations and email exchanges with the public on both sides of the issue,” said the project’s manager, Jeff Kroft. “From delving into the history of the 89-mile study segment to listening to property owners’ and river users’ concerns, we have learned a great deal about the use and condition of the Rogue. We greatly appreciate all the comments we’ve received and are working hard to deliver an accurate and unbiased report to the board.” 
 
The Department of State Lands concluded in both the first and second draft reports that the segment from Grave Creek to Lost Creek Dam is navigable – meaning the public has the right to use its banks for fishing, navigation, recreation and commerce.
 
To reach its conclusion, DSL used the federal test for navigability:
 
To be considered navigable, and therefore a grant to a state upon its admission to the Union, the river must have been:
  • Used, or susceptible to being used,
  • In its ordinary and natural condition,
  • As a highway of commerce over which trade and travel were, or could have been conducted,
  • In the customary modes of trade and travel on water at the time of Oregon’s statehood (1859).
The Land Board will use this test in determining their final decision.
 
Additional information on the study is available on the DSL Web site.
 
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Land Management Updates
Owyhee Canyon  
Grazing Fee Committee:  DSL Director Louise Solliday has appointed seven members to the 2008 Grazing Fee Advisory Committee, whose charge is to review the existing formula for calculating lease rates on more than 630,000 acres of rangeland, located primarily in central and southeastern Oregon. Committee members represent grazing permittees, SE Oregon counties, education advocates, the environmental community and the general public.
 
State-owned rangelands are the largest block of land remaining from a grant of land by the U.S. Congress to support schools when Oregon became a state in 1859. Revenues from rangeland leases are deposited in the Common School Fund.
 
In 2004, the Secretary of State conducted an audit to determine if DSL was maximizing long-term income from rangeland assets. The audit report directed the agency to “review the grazing fee formula and factors at least once every three years as required by Oregon Administrative Rule.”  An eight-member Grazing Fee Advisory Committee met between September 2004 and May 2006 to produce the 2004-2006 Grazing Fee Advisory Report, which recommended that fees remain stable until additional research on fair market value could be completed.
 
The 2008 committee will submit their recommendations in fall 2008. Additional information is available from Nancy Pustis or Randy Wiest  in DSL’s Eastern Region Office.
 
Special Uses Rulemaking: To accommodate new uses of state-owned land, DSL has developed proposed amendments to administrative rules governing how our lands may be used. Among the uses being considered are renewable energy projects (wind turbines, wind farms, solar energy installations and biomass-generating facilities); upland quarries; and the removal of sunken logs, woody debris and abandoned pilings for commercial purposes. The public comment period on the proposed changes is open until Friday, May 16, with the goal of having the amended rules adopted by the Land Board at their June 10 public meeting.
 
More information is available on the DSL Web site.
 
In-Lieu Land:  To partially satisfy a 1991 federal lawsuit settlement, the U. S. Bureau of Land Management recently deeded 240 acres of land in Central Oregon to the Department of State Lands. The ‘Cline Buttes’ parcel is located west of Redmond, in the BLM’s Prineville District.
 
At statehood, the federal government granted Oregon title to sections 16 and 36 of every township to support the new state’s schools. In 1991, Oregon was able to prove in federal court that the U.S. government still owed the state 5,202.29 acres of land. The state is entitled to an additional 2,234 acres, and is working with the BLM on gaining title to the remaining acreage.
 
“We hope to complete the in-lieu transfers by 2009, Oregon’s 150th birthday,” said Steve Purchase, DSL’s assistant director for land management. “Our goal has always been to select lands with a high probability for appreciation in value or the ability to consistently generate revenue over the long term for the Common School Fund.”  DSL’s Asset Management Plan, updated in 2006, provides strategic direction for acquiring and managing lands for the fund.
 
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Unclaimed Property Section Busy
Binnoculars  
“Since the beginning of the year, we’ve seen a definite surge in inquiries from people searching for unclaimed property,” said Cyndi Wickham, DSL’s unclaimed property manager. “For example, in early April, the ‘Today’ show featured a segment on finding unclaimed assets, which had an impact on state programs all across the nation,” she said.
 
During the first two weeks of April, inquires nearly doubled over 2007 numbers, going from 273 in 2007 to 476 this year. Average monthly inquiries were in the 400-600 range, said Wickham, but 2008’s monthly numbers have grown to 850 in January, 790 in February and 887 in March.
 
Unclaimed property is mostly money, but it can be any financial asset that has not been claimed by its owner, such as payroll checks, refunds, overpayments, bank accounts, mutual funds and securities.
 
While most accounts are valued at $100 or less, more than $300 million is currently available for claim. Accounts with a value of $10 or greater appear on the DSL Web site. The Web site is updated regularly, so check often!
 
Unclaimed property is held in trust forever in the Common School Fund for claim by rightful owners or their heirs. Earnings from the fund are sent twice a year to Oregon’s 198 K-12 public school districts. Recent annual distributions have ranged from $35.2 million in 2000 to nearly $50 million in 2007.
 
Unclaimed property staff is coordinating Unclaimed Property Business Seminars starting May 20 and running through June 17.
 
The workshops provide businesses and organizations with an overview of unclaimed property, determining when property is reportable, actions required before reporting, due dilligence and record retention.
 
If you've ever wondered what to do when checks never clear your bank account or are returned by the Post Office, or how to handle inactive customer credit balances, plan to attend a half-day training session in Salem, Portland, Eugene, Medford or Pendleton.
 
The cost is $25 per attendee, which includes a handbook with information and resources about the compliance process. Click here for registration details, or call 503-986-5290 (Salem) for more information about the seminars.
 
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2007 Land Board Awards
At their public meeting on April 8, the State Land Board presented four awards for exemplary projects that promote responsible stewardship of Oregon’s natural resources:

 

2007 Stream Project Award:   Brownsville Dam Removal
2007 Wetland Project Award:   Williamson River Delta Project
2007 Wetland Project Award:   Mid Valley Wetland Mitigation Bank
2007 Partnership Award:   Friends of South Slough, Inc.
 
“It’s encouraging for the Land Board to know there are so many outstanding projects taking place throughout the state – and I commend today’s award winners for protecting our natural resources for future generations,” said Gov. Ted Kulongoski, chair of the Land Board.
 
Information about this year’s awards is available on the DSL Web site.
 
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Removal-Fill Permit Rule Changes
Oregon Stream  
Expedited General Authorizations:  With an implementation target date of May 1, DSL has completed rulemaking for a new general authorization (GA) for the placement of large wood and boulders. This authorization will have a 15-day turnaround, and has been developed in coordination with the Corps of Engineers. The expedited GA seeks to ensure a quick approval of qualified restoration projects and is designed to work in conjunction with the Corps' Regional General Permit for the same activities. If this effort is successful, DSL may pursue additional expedited general authorizations in the future.
 
Division 85 Rules:  Since early February, DSL staff and the removal-fill Technical Advisory Committee have been working on substantial revisions to the removal-fill rules. The goals of the process are to consolidate similar topics, provide consistency throughout the rules, develop a more comprehensive online application process, and create a “standard operating procedures” manual to help applicants by providing explanatory graphics and figures. After final staff review in May/June, stakeholder groups will have an opportunity to review the changes over the summer months. In September and October, the draft rules will go out for public review, with the goal of finalizing and adopting the permanent rules by the end of the year for implementation on Jan. 1, 2009. Contact Eric Metz for additional information.
 
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Portland to Host Wetlands 2008 Conference
Wetland Site Visit  
Wetlands and Global Climate Change will explore opportunities and cooperative strategies for managing wetlands and water resources in response to climate change, and how this challenge can be managed along with conserving and protecting wetlands.
 
Organized by the Association of State Wetland Managers and the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Society of Wetland Scientists, the symposium features sessions on wetland condition assessment and monitoring, floodplain management and wetlands, mitigation banking, and federal Clean Water Act updates from the Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Justice. Field trips in the Portland area also are offered.
 
“These annual meetings emphasize wetland program needs, management aspects of wetlands, and incorporating science into management programs and policies. They always provide great opportunities to learn from, and share information among, different levels of government and different states and tribes,” said DSL Wetlands Program Manager Janet Morlan.
 
The conference will be held in Portland at the Doubletree-Lloyd Center, Sept. 15 through 19. DSL is a sponsor, and wetlands staff are participating in local planning efforts. Visit the conference Web site for more information.
 
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South Slough Receives Energy Grant
South Slough Interpretive Center  
With a $176,500 grant received in 2007 from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve is redefining the way energy is used to provide heat, light and water to its buildings.
 
This summer, photovoltaic panels to reduce reliance on grid power will be installed on the interpretive center’s roof; eventually power will be returned to the grid system instead of being pulled from it. Additionally, $75,000 in energy credits is available to help offset the cost of the system.
 
The Reserve’s education staff will provide information about the system’s efficiency and adaptability for public or private buildings, and design interpretive signage describing the project from conceptual phases through implementation.
 
Other grant-funded projects include installing solar panels on well-system pumps to pull water into large, pressurized storage tanks to allow for uninterrupted water use for large groups; and replacing lighting throughout the interpretive center with low-energy light sources that increase the amount of task lighting in office spaces and provide museum-quality spot lighting for the exhibit hall and auditorium.
 
One final task is redesigning the interpretive center’s large rock fireplace. While the fireplace is welcoming to visitors on dark, rainy days, it is inefficient and actually moves warm air out of the building. Reserve staff are considering a redesigned façade, modernized interior flue construction and a soapstone insert, common in Europe and a superior source for radiant heat.
 
More information about these energy projects is available from Robin Elledge  at the South Slough.
 
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Public Access to GIS Data Coming Soon
GIS Map  
DSL's GIS (geographic information system) coordinator Randy Sounhein is preparing to launch a public Web site for accessing agency removal-fill and land authorization spatial data. The Web site is built around Arc Internet Map Server technology developed by ESRI. The capabilities of this application are vast, and should provide DSL customers with numerous project-related maps, with features such as essential salmonid habitat, land ownership, legislative districts and much more.  Randy expects to have the public site’s URL posted by early May (check the DSL Web site – www.oregonstatelands.us – for updates). Map layers will be added as they become available.
 
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Contact Information:
 
Julie Curtis
Oregon Department of State Lands
775 Summer St., NE, Suite 100
Salem, OR 97301-1279
503-986-5298
 
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