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E-News Winter 2011
Winter 2011

In this newsletter

Common School Fund helps public education in Oregon
Oregon school children  
January distribution totals $24.4 million 
Since Oregon became a state in 1859, the Common School Fund has provided hundreds of millions of dollars for Oregon public schools. Our "land-rich, cash-poor" state needed a way to finance public education for Oregon's new residents, and the federal government granted sections 16 and 36 of every township "for the use of schools." Though many state lands were sold to provide tax revenue, the Department of State Lands still manages about a fourth of Oregon's original 3.4 million acres to benefit our schoolchildren.
Twice a year, earnings from the Common School Fund - which functions like a trust fund, where only the interest is spent - are sent to Oregon's 197 K-12 public school districts. While CSF funds are considered local funding, the dollars are not insignificant. In smaller districts, such as Ontario, the 2010 CSF distribution would fund two full-time teachers. In medium-sized districts such as Bend or Medford, a dozen teachers would be funded. In Portland, nearly 50.
"Every dollar helps Oregon schools - it's just that simple," said Louise Solliday, DSL director. "My goal is for every education advocate across the state to understand the Common School Fund and our role in supporting Oregon's schoolchildren from generation to generation."
More information on the fund is on the DSL Web site.
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Land management activities captured in report
State-owned land  
Economy affects fiscal year 2010 revenue
The State Land Board oversees more than 780,000 acres of Common School Lands to generate revenue for K-12 public education in Oregon. Another 800,000 acres of navigable waterways and 756,000 acres of mineral and energy resources are under their authority. For guidance, the board adopted the 2006 - 2016 Asset Management Plan which sets out management priorities for state land assets.
At their Dec. 14 public meeting, the board received the Land Management Division's annual report showing the results of staff work in 2008-09 to generate revenue from leases, easements, licenses, real estate assets, sales and acquisitions. Highlights include:
  • $13.3 million was generated from land authorizations during FY 2010, a 23.7 percent decrease from the previous fiscal year. Most of the downturn was due to declining timber prices.
  • Land sales brought in $3 million which was deposited in the land sale revolving fund for future land improvements and acquisitions.
  • The department acquired two significant industrial/commercial/residential (ICR) properties: Forked Horn Butte subdivision in Redmond, a land exchange with Giustina Resources; and the former State Motor Pool property in Eugene, which we purchased from the Oregon Department of Administrative Services.
  • Volatility in the real estate market over the past few years contributed to the department not meeting its performance measures for increasing net operating income, land values and gross annual revenue.
  • In summer 2009, 39,831 acres of rangelands were inventoried to prepare long-term leasehold management plans and annual operating plans. The department exceeded its goal to inventory 30,000 acres per year.
  • In May, staff began planning efforts for the Central Oregon Area Management Plan (COAMP) for 34 properties on 7,400 acres in Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties. The plan should be completed by June 2011.
  • Department staff took the lead in developing, with the Department of Administrative Services and 18 other state agencies, the Statewide Land Inventory System, which will identify by spring 2011 all property owned by the different State of Oregon land owning agencies.
More information is available on the DSL Web site and from John Russell, asset manager.
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Elliott State Forest planning underway
Elliott State Forest  
New management strategy would replace 1994 plan, take effect in 2012
The first round of public comments is in on a management plan to guide future timber harvest volumes and endangered species protection on the Elliott State Forest. The State Land Board, which oversees about 91 percent of the 93,000-acre forest between Coos Bay and Reedsport, directed agency staff to work with the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) to develop an alternative plan to one based on a Habitat Conservation Plan, which now appears unattainable.
"Despite 10 years of hard work, and after an independent scientific review, we've been unable to reach agreement with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on the harvest level we believe is sustainable for generating increased revenue for Oregon schools and protecting wildlife and native habitat," said DSL director Louise Solliday. The draft management plan incorporates a "take-avoidance" strategy, which is used on all other state forests, and involves surveying for endangered species.
The draft plan has a range of expected outcomes for three different forest stand types; designates portions of the forest as conservation areas; protects streams; and retains live trees, snags and downed wood to benefit wildlife over time in harvested areas.
The goal of the new plan is to maximize revenue from the Elliott for the Common School Fund. Sustainable, consistent harvest levels around 40 million board feet (of the 75 million board feet grown annually) is the target. This would leave nearly half of the annual growth of the forest on the land to contribute towards new and enhanced wildlife habitat into the future.
ODF and DSL staff are now reviewing public comments received in December, and will open a second round of public input from May 1 through July 29, 2011. The Land Board has given both agencies until Dec. 31, 2011, to complete the new plan if agreement cannot be reached with NMFS on the Habitat Conservation Plan.
In June 2010, ODF completed an analysis of the feasibility of carbon storage on the Elliott. The research showed that because the forest has been managed over the last decade with a relatively high conservation emphasis, it is unlikely that future management would result in significant additional carbon storage. Opportunities to generate revenues from new carbon storage are limited because of this high baseline.
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Central Oregon plan taking shape
Central Oregon  
Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson county properties included
Beginning in May 2010, staff in the Asset Management Section began the process of creating a Central Oregon Area Management Plan (COAMP). With nearly 7,500 acres and 34 properties under State Land Board ownership, the goal is to better coordinate management decisions and revenue generation on these lands.
"We're in various stages of planning for some of our larger parcels in the region," said Doug Parker, DSL's asset planner. But the tri-county area lacks a cohesive strategy for managing state lands as a whole, he said. "If current uses are working well, we don't want to change that, but if there are opportunities to work in partnership with lessees or other interested parties to increase the value of our lands, we see this planning process as the ideal time to identify those prospects."
Informal public meetings were held in November in Redmond and Prineville, and staff have been presenting information at a variety of city and county meetings in the region. A draft plan will be available for public review in April, with public presentations and hearings taking place in April and May. The draft plan will be revised and modified as warranted (based upon hearing input) with the final COAMP plan being presented to the State Land Board at their public meeting in June 2011.
More information is available on the DSL Web site, or by contacting Doug Parker.
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Oregon featured on new Oprah channel
Money falling from the sky  
Four people with unclaimed property invited to show
Oregonians who lost track of old bank accounts were reunited with their money on the inaugural show 'Ask Oprah's All Stars' Jan. 2. As part of financial expert Suze Orman's segment of the show, four people were called to the stage to accept their lost money - Mary Storm of Albany, Jeffrey and Nicole Dahl of Medford, and Mike Maloco, formerly of Portland.
"We had a blast, and got to see Oprah up close, which was amazing," said Jeff Dahl, an inventor who originally assumed he was asked to appear on the show to promote his alternative to the bungee cord, LoopRope. "It was such a surprise for my wife, though, who had no idea why we were offered this incredible opportunity," he said.
It all started when DSL was contacted by an Oprah Winfrey Network producer seeking individuals with unclaimed property for the new show. While it's routine to work with media on unclaimed property stories, being a part of the channel's launch was unusual and fun, said Julie Curtis, DSL communications manager.
DSL's Unclaimed Property Section worked quickly to provide names of several individuals that were forwarded to the show's producers, and eventually four were selected for an all-expense-paid trip to the show. In each case, their lost money was a dormant Washington Mutual bank account that had been turned over to the state when Chase took over the failed bank. Amounts ranged from $2,120 to $4,437.
"There are more than 2 million names of people and businesses with unclaimed property," said unclaimed property manager Pat Tate. "It's easy and free to search, and with more than $380 million available for claim, everyone should check now and check often!"
Visit the DSL Web site to search for your money, and to learn more about WaMu accounts.
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OPB to feature South Slough research
South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve  
Oregon's long history of studying oysters is the subject of an upcoming half-hour show on Oregon Public Broadcasting's 'Oregon Experience.' The Oystermen will feature a wide array of information and stories about this famed shellfish, said South Slough scientist Steve Rumrill.
"Producer Eric Cain contacted me for reference materials about current and historical oyster culture activities throughout the state, including information on my research on the reproductive biology of native Olympia oysters," said Rumrill. The OPB film crew travelled to Coos Bay and the South Slough twice during November, and filmed an interview and a short field segment on oyster restoration, he said. "I anticipate the effort to bring back native oysters will be highlighted as part of the final broadcast."
According to the OPB Web site, the show is slated to air on April 10, 2011, at 9:00 p.m.
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Fact sheet highlights DSL programs
Oregon State Capitol  
In preparation for the 2011 Legislative Session, the Department of State Lands (DSL) recently prepared a fact sheet - DSL by the Numbers - which includes information on the volume and type of work accomplished in FY 2010, as well as Common School Fund distribution.
By early February, the agency will release another fact sheet on the 2011 - 2013 Governor's Recommended Budget and Legislative Proposal.  The only legislation being proposed by DSL is to move the Natural Heritage Program to State Parks.
More information on DSL's legislative agenda is available from Cynthia Wickham, DSL's legislative coordinator and assistant director, Finance and Administration Division.
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Nominations open for State Land Board Awards
Oregon State Land Board Awards  
Annual awards honor outstanding stream, wetland and partnership projects
Since 2004, the State Land Board has recognized worthy environmental projects from across the state through an annual awards program. Winning projects have included dam removals, wetland restoration, state land cleanups, stream channel restoration and exemplary stewardship programs.
Watershed councils, public ports, local governments, wetland bankers, ranchers and other property owners, environmental organizations and community groups have been honored for their exemplary efforts.
This year, the board will present awards for projects completed in 2010 at their April 14 public meeting in Salem. The deadline to submit nominations is Feb. 18. More information and the nomination forms are on the DSL Web site, or by contacting DSL communications manager Julie Curtis.
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Agency rulemaking updates
Department of State Lands Building  
Wetlands and Waterways
Making it easier to get a permit for low-impact projects is the primary goal of a current removal-fill rulemaking effort. Restoring wetlands, stabilizing stream banks, placing pilings, and transportation maintenance all would qualify for a new series of "notice-based" general authorizations and permits (GAs and GPs). "We want to facilitate these types of activities, not require a complicated permit application process," said Eric Metz, DSL's southern region manager. Over the past several months, DSL staff have conducted informational meetings with regional constituent groups, said Metz, and the agency will launch a formal hearings process beginning Jan. 19. The public comment period will close on Jan. 31. More information is available on the DSL Web site.
Land Management
Beginning this spring, the Land Management Division will begin rulemaking related to conducting environmental restoration on state lands. The effort relates primarily to facilitating remediation on state-owned land within the Portland Harbor Superfund site. The two-step process will involve amending OAR 141-080-0105 governing the Lower Willamette River Management Plan, and developing new rules governing processes for conducting remedial activities throughout Oregon. "With the Land Board's recent approval, we'll begin the process to establish an advisory committee and create a schedule for the rulemaking," said the division's assistant director, Jim Paul.
Unclaimed Property
The department wrapped up rulemaking related to processing unclaimed property in December. The new rules allow DSL to take advantage of Web-based technologies, and made clearer that our rules apply only to our own program. The new rules took effect Jan. 1.
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Contact Information:
Julie Curtis
Communications Manager
Oregon Department of State Lands
775 Summer St., NE, Suite 100
Salem, OR 97301-1279