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Public comment period opens Nov. 1 on Elliott State Forest management
Proposed plan would take effect in January 2010
 
For immediate release                             
October 29, 2010                                         
 
Contact:
Kevin Weeks (ODF) 503-945-7427
Julie Curtis (DSL), 503-986-5298
                       
The Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL) and Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) invite the public to submit written comments on the 2010 update of the long-range plan for managing the Elliott State Forest. The 93,000-acre, state-owned forest is located in the Coast Range between Coos Bay and Reedsport.
 
Ninety-one percent (84,562 acres) of the forest is Common School Fund land, owned by the State Land Board. The board oversees management of the forest to provide timber revenue for K-12 schools using sound techniques of land management. 
 
The proposed forest management plan (FMP) would replace the current plan adopted by the State Land Board and Board of Forestry in 1994, and go into effect on January 1, 2012, if a concurrent habitat conservation plan (HCP) process is not successful. An HCP is a plan prepared under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) to minimize and mitigate for potential incidental take of threatened and endangered species while conducting otherwise lawful activities.
 
In 1995, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) approved an Elliott State Forest HCP, which included a 60-year Incidental Take Permit (ITP) for the northern spotted owl and a six-year ITP for the marbled murrelet. The murrelet agreement expired in October 2001, and that expiration was the primary driver for revising the FMP and HCP.
 
Since 2000, a multi-agency group of foresters and scientists has provided guidance to ODF and DSL on updating the 1994 FMP and 1995 HCP.  After a decade of planning, the team has been unable to reach agreement with the National Marine Fisheries Service on a revised Elliott HCP.    
 
In early 2010, the Land Board and Board of Forestry set December 31, 2011, as the deadline for completing approval of a revised multi-species HCP. If a new HCP is not approved by this date, the 1995 HCP will be terminated and a “take-avoidance” strategy will be implemented to protect threatened and endangered species within the Elliott State Forest. Forest management plans utilizing a take avoidance approach are currently being applied on all other state-owned forestland managed by the ODF.
 
The 2010 draft plan uses ODF take-avoidance policies to comply with the federal Endangered Species Act, and has many similarities to the approach taken on other state-owned forestlands. 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 Draft 2010 Elliott State Forest Management Plan is available on-line.
 
Comments on the plan may be submitted by letter, email or fax to: Keith Baldwin, Oregon Dept. of Forestry, 2600 State St., Salem, OR 97310; kbaldwin@odf.state.or.us; fax: 503-945-7354.
 
Written comments on the plan must be received by December 30, 2010. A second comment period with public hearing will run from May 1 through July 29, 2011.
 
The Elliott became Oregon’s first state forest when acquired in 1930. The State Land Board owns its common school lands, while the Oregon Department of Forestry manages the state forest through an agreement with the State Land Board and Department of State Lands. Timber harvest revenues, minus the cost of management, go to the Common School Fund to support the state’s 197 K-12 public school districts.
 
The Oregon Department of Forestry manages 848,000 acres of forests in Oregon for the environmental, social and economic benefit of Oregonians.
 
Following are web links to additional information about the Elliott State Forest and the Oregon departments of State Lands and Forestry:
 
Elliott State Forest Backgrounder 
 
www.oregonstatelands.us
 
www.oregon.gov/ODF 
 
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