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Department of State Lands E-News
Fall 2010

 
 

Unclaimed property claims soar
Flying money  
Tough economic times may be translating to an increased workload for DSL's unclaimed property staff. Year to date, the department has received 23,000 inquiries compared to just less than 15,000 in 2009 - a 53 percent increase. More than $18 million dollars has been returned to owners in 2010, compared to $14.5 million in 2009.
 
While we're happy to see citizens take advantage of the online owner search to recover their funds, the dramatic and unexpected growth in inquiries means customers are waiting longer for their money. Last year, unclaimed property staff typically processed an inquiry in less than 30 days. Since March 2010, the average wait time grew to almost 90 days.
 
The good news is more Oregonians are finding their unclaimed property, and processing time has recently sped up. In September, the wait time dropped back under 60 days, due to a focused staff effort to process claims. Program manager Pat Tate expects it will be less than a 30-day wait before December.
 
"Our goal is to reunite owners with their lost funds in a timely manner. But we have to ensure that claims are legitimate and that identity fraud has not taken place," said Tate. "This takes time and often additional information from claimants," he said. Tate noted the program is moving towards a more automated online claims search, which will make it even easier for citizens to find and file claims, and allow DSL to respond to inquiries more efficiently.
 
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November land auctions planned
State-owned land being sold at auction  
Eight timbered tracts being offered
 
Seven parcels of forestland in Lincoln County and one in Benton County will be sold by oral and sealed-bid auctions in November, if the State Land Board approves the sale at their Oct. 12 meeting. Commercial timber production is considered the highest and best use for these lands, although recreational use of the smaller tracts also is possible.
 
The parcels range in size from 39 to 311 acres, and reserve prices (minimum bids) range from $67,500 to $1,500,000.
 
According to DSL's asset manager, John Russell, each of the tracts has good access, though additional research may be needed to determine legal access for specific parcels. Bordering properties consist mainly of commercial timberland. No home sites are possible and there are no public utilities to any of the parcels.
 
The auctions will be conducted by the department’s real estate broker, Realty Marketing/Northwest. More information on the individual properties is on the DSL Web site.
 
DSL's 2006-2016 Asset Management Plan directs the agency to dispose of "lands that are not actively managed, difficult or uneconomical to manage, or low revenue producers," and to reinvest sale proceeds in "acquiring new lands and improving lands with revenue-producing potential."
 
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Long-term stewardship is the goal of rangeland surveys
Wagontire Allotment  
Since 2002, DSL's rangeland team has been systematically inventorying 525,000 acres of large - or "blocked" - rangeland parcels. The goal is to inventory a minimum of 30,000 acres per year. To date, DSL has inventoried 321,402 acres.
 
Range fieldwork is conducted each June and July, and provides baseline data on rangeland health, wildlife habitat, vegetative species, soils, and the overall condition of the land.
 
This year's effort focused on the Wagontire Allotment, and covered 29,546-acre Little Juniper Pasture and 2,047-acre West Highway Pasture, located southwest of Burns off Highway 395.
 
More information on the annual surveys is available on the DSL Web site.
 
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West-side waterway inventories completed
Western Oregon waterway  
Data provides updates to 1990s work
 
The Department of State Lands owns the land to the high water line on many lakes and rivers throughout Oregon. In the late 1990s, most of the state-owned waterways on the west side of the state were inventoried for structures and uses on these state lands. This ensures that all uses of state-owned land are authorized by DSL (i.e., property owners must obtain a lease, registration or other type of waterway authorization). The revenue from waterway authorizations is deposited into the Common School Fund.  
 
Since the original inventories were done, the department has relied on land-use and regulatory notifications for updates on new uses of state-owned lands, but the only way to have accurate data is to re-inventory the waterways.
 
This summer, staff in the Land Management Division's western region began re-inventorying some of the western region waterways this summer, including the Willamette River from the mouth to Marion County, Multnomah Channel, and Devils Lake. Plans are to complete Loon Lake on the Oregon coast this fall, and continue with more inventory work in the spring of 2011.
 
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Rules governing low-impact removal-fill activities under review
Oregon waterway  
Public comment to be taken in November
 
The Department of State Lands is proposing to adopt administrative rules for eight new notice-based general authorizations (GAs) and two general permits (GPs). The new rules would be effective Jan. 1, 2011. The new GAs and GPs will provide a streamlined permit process for low-impact projects such as wetland restoration, streambank stabilization, placement of pilings, and transportation maintenance.
 
Over the past several months, DSL has worked with key constituents and agency staff on drafting the new rules. The agency will make the final drafts available for public comment from Nov. 1-23. More information is available online, or by contacting Eric Metz, southern region removal-fill manager.
 
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ARRA provides coastal research funds
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act  
Five coastal waterways - Hunter Creek, Rogue River, Coquille River, Tillamook River Basin and Nehalem River - are part of a baseline study on channel stability and sediment transport being funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The study will be conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).
 
Data from the research will help inform removal-fill permitting decisions for future gravel extraction in these waterways, said Bill Ryan, assistant director of the Wetlands and Waterways Conservation Division.
 
The total cost of the research is $417,380 for FY 2011 (Oct. 1, 2010 through Sept. 30, 2011). DSL's share of the project cost - $367,380 - is being paid for by federal ARRA funds, and the remaining funds are being provided by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. DSL has a cooperative agreement with the Corps for managing the project.
 
The USGS also will collect and analyze data related to in-stream gravel mining on the Chetco River as part of the process outlined in DSL's General Permit and the Corps' Regional General Permit. The Chetco's baseline study is completed, and did not use ARRA funds.
 
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Customers rate DSL services
Customer service at DSL  
Upward trend continues in 2010
 
More than 1,000 people who interacted with the Department of State Lands in 2009 participated in a customer service survey last spring.
 
Five customer groups - land management, wetlands and waterways, unclaimed property claimants, agency partners and South Slough - provided feedback on staff timeliness, accuracy, helpfulness and professional expertise, and on the overall availability of information.
 
"The good news is we've been able to move the dial on our overall quality of service rating," said DSL director Louise Solliday. The number of customers who rated the agency's customer service as excellent or good increased from 75 percent in 2007 to 83 percent in 2010.
 
"Because we administer regulatory programs, and because many of our customers never interact directly with a person, we understand the challenges of getting positive customer feedback. So it's very gratifying to see that we're making headway in improving our service delivery each year," she said.
 
More information on the 2010 survey is available online.
 
ERT survey yields similar response
 
Results of the Economic Revitalization Team's customer survey show DSL's ratings are on par with our own customer survey - about 82 percent of ERT customers (mostly local elected officials and staff) rated the department's service as good or excellent. Ratings for other ERT agencies ranged from 68%-82%, according to Kirk Jarvie, DSL's ERT liaison.
 
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South Slough scientist to lead oyster research
Oyster pyramids  
Steve Rumrill, research program coordinator at the South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, has begun a collaborative investigation into the early life history of native Olympia oysters. Native oysters were historically abundant and ecologically important in estuarine environments along the coast from British Columbia to California. However, widespread decline has prompted recent research into restoring this important species.
 
Rumrill is working with the Oregon Institute of Marine Biology in Charleston on the investigation. He's also assembling an Olympia Oyster Recovery Advisory Committee for the project, and plans to share data with other groups interested in native oyster recovery. According to Rumrill, a substantial amount of the information developed for Coos Bay may also be applicable to restoring Olympia oyster populations in other Oregon estuaries.
 
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Legislation would transfer Natural Heritage Program to Parks
Oregon Natural Heritage Program  
Established by the Oregon Legislature in 1979, the Oregon Natural Heritage Program was created to preserve and protect important natural areas throughout the state. The program and its advisory council are currently affiliated with the Department of State Lands and State Land Board. A recent review of the program concluded that while its focus is still important, it would be better served by an agency whose mission more closely aligns with the ONHP.
 
As part of the 2011-13 budget process, DSL submitted a legislative concept that would transfer the program to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department effective Jan. 1, 2012, and abolish the Natural Heritage Advisory Council. State Parks is an agency that protects and conserves natural areas, whereas DSL's mission focuses on its fiduciary responsibility to produce revenues for the Common School Fund. Additionally, OPRD owns many of the sites currently on the Register of Natural Heritage Resources.
 
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Looking for a speaker?
Speaker from the Oregon Department of State Lands  
Check out the DSL Speakers Bureau for ideas!  DSL staff are experts on a wide variety of subjects, including:
  • Wetland and waterway regulations and permitting
  • Wetland mitigation
  • Oregon’s Common School Fund
  • Waterway navigability
  • Marine planning
  • Unclaimed property
  • Estates program
  • Coastal estuaries and the South Slough Reserve
 
 
 
Contact Information:
 
Julie Curtis
Communications Manager
Oregon Department of State Lands
77 Summer St. NE, Suite 100
Salem, OR 97301-1279
503-986-5298
 
 
 
 
 


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