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Oregon to dedicate the Gilchrist State Forest on June 11
View looking east from the Gilchrist State Forest in central Oregon
June 1, 2010
Contact: Kevin Weeks, (503) 945-7427, or Dan Postrel, (503) 945-7420
The Oregon Department of Forestry will dedicate the Gilchrist State Forest in central Oregon – the first new state-owned forest created in almost 70 years – during a June 11 ceremony featuring Governor Ted Kulongoski.
The 43,000-acre forest is located about 45 miles south of Bend.
"Working forests are a part of Oregon’s legacy – and a part of our future,” Kulongoski said. “Creation of this new state forest is a wise investment, ensuring that these lands will provide many benefits for future generations of Oregonians.”
The Gilchrist lands represent one of the last large blocks of forestland in central Oregon, and without public ownership would likely have been sold as many small parcels, resulting in fragmented wildlife habitat, lost public access, increased wildfire problems, and reduced potential to raise revenue for local government through sustainable timber harvest, carbon credits or other sources.
The state purchased the land last March, with $15 million in bonds approved by the 2009 legislature with Kulongoski’s support. The bonds will be repaid over 20 years using proceeds from the Oregon Lottery. State officials had initially hoped to buy an additional 25,000 acres immediately to the east, but public financing is not currently available. The Oregon Department of Forestry is working with a non-profit group – The Conservation Fund – which is purchasing those lands to hold until future state purchases are possible.
Governor Kulongoski is scheduled to be the primary speaker at the event, which will include State Forester Marvin Brown, Cal Mukumoto of the Oregon Board of Forestry, Klamath County Commissioner Al Switzer and Mark Elsbree from The Conservation Fund. The dedication ceremony is scheduled to begin at 1:00 pm in a forested area east of downtown Gilchrist. The event site is open to the public.
The forest was purchased from Fidelity National Timber Resources, Inc., which had owned it since 2006. The new Gilchrist State Forest was part of larger forest holdings owned by the Gilchrist Timber Company for most of the 20th century. The community of Gilchrist was a “company town,” the site of the company mill and home to many of its workers.
The Gilchrist family sold the property and mill in 1991 to Crown Pacific, which liquidated the forest to pay debt and eventually entered bankruptcy in 2003. The land, which once supported expanses of large Ponderosa pine trees, was heavily harvested in the early 1990s, following the Gilchrist Timber Company sale. As required by the Oregon Forest Practices Act, the area was reforested with new seedlings that will form the basis of a growing forest that provides some public benefits today, and that in several decades will also produce timber harvests to help support local government services for Klamath County residents.
Prior to the Gilchrist forest purchase, the last major forestland acquisition by the state was the Sun Pass State Forest, just south of Crater Lake, acquired between 1943 and 1948. The Sun Pass since has been managed to produce a mix of younger forests and stately older Ponderosa pine, providing a rich range of benefits.
The Oregon Department of Forestry provides a diverse range of services to Oregon’s public, including forestry landowner assistance and rules providing natural resource protection on 12 million acres of private and state-owned forest, management of 848,000 acres of State Forests and fire protection on 15.8 million acres of forest land, most of it privately owned.