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Elliott Research Forest Proposal Archive

Previous Draft Proposal Elements

Important note: The versions below are provided for reference and are not the current version of the draft proposal. The most current DRAFT proposal can be found here (updated 11/10/2020)

Prior DRAFT of the Elliott State Research Forest Proposal (published 10/23/2020). This document includes the full draft text of each of the following proposal elements:

  • Vision for An Elliott State Research Forest: A Letter from the OSU College of Forestry Dean, Thomas H. DeLuca.
  • Guiding Principles and OSU Commitments.
  • Definitions and Protocols for Research Treatments (Intensive Management, Extensive Management, Forest in Reserves).
  • Aquatic and Riparian Research Strategy.
  • Example Research Opportunities Under the Triad Research Design.

OSU Proposal Brief. This four-page document provides a summary of the 10/23/2020 draft proposal. 

Information about each proposal element is also presented below. Click on the boxes below to expand them and learn more about each topic. 

Important note: The information below is the same as the information in the 10/23/2020 full draft proposal and the proposal brief, just provided in a different format.


A Letter from the OSU College of Forestry Dean, Thomas H. DeLuca:

Oregon  forests  have  sustained  life  for  millennia. By  merely  closing  our  eyes,  we  can  imagine  rolling  hills  and  rising  mountains,  deep  green  forests  and  pastel  meadows;  salmon  runs  churning  rivers  and  birds  making  the  most extraordinary sounds. With some careful effort, we can find a patchwork of spaces that provide this experience in the first person. As European presence occurred across the western United States, and the expansion of populations and cities, the ability to grow trees for timber became a critical component of Oregon's rural communities and of expanding economies across the region.

 In seeking to create an Elliott State Research Forest, we are reflecting on the immense capacity that exists for  forests  of  Oregon,  and  beyond,  to  provide  the  values  we  need  to  sustain  ecosystems  and  economies.  We  believe that carefully crafted research and scientific inquiry in a dedicated area can inform the conservation and management decisions required to protect endangered species and ultimately lead to their delisting. With broad engagement  in  designing  such  a  process,  economic  growth  in  a  genuinely  sustainable  manner  could  stabilize  and revitalize communities that have been flailing for decades and are always at risk to the boom and bust of policy changes.​

With input from the Elliott State Research Forest Advisory Committee, OSU has developed following guiding principles as the foundation for establishing a long-term research program that remains focused and relevant to the overarching vision set forth by the State Land Board.

  • Research: Management of the Elliott State Research Forest will advance and sustain science-based research that does not introduce statistical bias.
  • Enduring: The overarching research question for the Elliott State Research Forest should aim to remain relevant across many years, generations, and social, economic and environmental contexts.
  • At Scale: An overarching research question, research design, and long-term monitoring on the Elliott should leverage the unique opportunity the forest offers for experiments at large spatial and long temporal scales.
  • Tailored to the Landscape: The overarching research question will guide the research design and will be tailored to the Elliott based on existing biological, physical, social, and economic conditions.
  • Practical, Relevant, and Collaborative: The Land Grant mission of Oregon State University and the history of the Elliott as a public forest require that research conducted on the forest be relevant to forest management issues and challenges facing Oregonians.​

The fundamental aspiration for the ESRF is to create a research forest that is capable of testing basic knowledge and answering the critical question: in times of rapidly changing climate, what are the most effective means of managing  forested landscapes to sustain conservation values (protection of threatened and endangered species, providing clean water and air, and mitigating climate change) and social values (recreation, education, and cultural uses), all while achieving a sustainable wood supply? 

The “triad" research design provides flexibility for a wide variety of research over an extended period of time, creating the necessary structure for scientists to expand knowledge on issues of critical importance to managing our forestlands to meet multiple outcomes important to our society.

Key features of the research design: Nearly half of the western side of the forest will be a reserve. This reserve will be managed to preserve and create old, advanced structure forest and all the public values associated with that forest type. In the eastern half of the ESRF, OSU will divide approximately 45,000 acres into sub watersheds. These sub watersheds are an important part of the research design in that they are the areas where a spectrum of forest management activities will occur in conjunction with smaller areas of reserve.​

This proposed research design:

  • Creates the largest forest reserve on the Oregon Coast, as the 35,000 western ESRF acres and the recently established Devil's Staircase Wilderness would create an approximately 65,000 acre reserve.
  • Allows for various types of management in order to test and examine understanding of the best ways to manage forest lands to provide for multiple social, conservation and economic objectives.
  • Allows for public access, recreation, educational partnerships, and local economic benefit – all in the context of research on issues of importance to Oregon and the Northwest.

Research Brief.​

Research Charter​.

Example Research Opportunities Under the Triad Research Design​. Although the unifying 'grand vision' for the Elliott is the question of how to meet society's wood demands while maintaining biodiversity, carbon sequestration and other socio-ecosystem processes, there are numerous opportunities for research within the broader design. This document provides a list of potential examples of the types of short term and long-term research project, research questions, and collaborations possible within the Triad design.​

Definitions and Protocols for Research Treatments (Intensive Management, Extensive Management, Forest in Reserves). This document provides proposed descriptions of intensive, extensive and reserve land management practices or “research treatments" that will be implemented at the stands level on an ESRF as a part of the Triad design. This document also provides additional figures and tables outlining the current draft allocation(as of August 2020)of each of these land management categories across an Elliott State Research Forest. As this is a proposal and not a final forest management plan, there will be future data collection that may inform and necessitate changing the proposed allocation of research treatments categories.​

Aquatic and Riparian Research Strategy​. This document provides an overview of the aquatic and riparian research strategy, description of the proposed process to integrate the riparian areas with adjacent research treatments. Provides details on proposed stream buffers in the CRW, MRW, and the West Fork of the Millicoma River.


OSU Commitments to Forest Governance, Conservation, Recreation, Education and Economies 

Guiding Principles for governance, conservation, recreation, educational partnerships, and local and regional economies were developed collaboratively by the DSL Advisory Committee and OSU Elliott project team based on input from the OSU led public outreach held in 2019. 

Read the Guiding Principles and OSU's Commitments to Public Values.

OSU's commitments to the public were developed in response to the Guiding Principles, as well as OSU's commitments to continued partnerships with local tribes. 

  • Transparency and accountability in the management and use of the ESRF through a governance structure that includes meaningful engagement with public interest groups, local communities, the private sector, Tribes, and others, primarily through an advisory board that advises ESRF management.
  • Owning and managing the ESRF as a public forest and guarantee public access for recreation, education, and foraging in ways consistent with research objectives and activities.
  • Engaging, coordinating, and promoting research and management partnerships with local watershed councils and associations, Tribes, conservation NGO's and other public and private entities.
  • Collaborating with scientists and researchers from other institutions in Oregon, the USA, and globally.​

  • We commit to conserving, enhancing, and sustaining high-quality habitats for endangered species and other wildlife through approaches such as placing approximately 60% of the ESRF into reserves.
  • We commit to providing and enhancing other habitats beyond older forests, in particular for complex early seral forests.
  • We commit to conserving, enhancing, and sustaining native riparian conditions and vital ecological processes that influence the aquatic networks of the ESRF.
  • We commit to conserving, enhancing, and sustaining carbon storage on the forest by increasing rotation ages in intensively managed stands, retaining older trees in extensively managed stands, and designating reserves.
  • We commit to reducing the current road network density and known related adverse impacts on the ESRF, while maintaining access for research, harvesting, management, education, fire protection, and recreation.
  • We commit to limiting salvage harvesting and related research to intensive watersheds.
  • We commit to helping advance a Habitat Conservation Plan. ​

  • We commit to enhancing public recreation access and use of the Elliott, including building upon existing partnerships and new ones.
  • We commit to collaborating with local stakeholders in developing and implementing a recreation management plan for the ESRF.
  • We commit to researching sustainable recreation management practices that advance knowledge and inform the general public about forested landscapes.
  • We commit to follow best practices for diversity, equity, and inclusion on the ESRF.​

  • We commit to providing and enhancing educational access and use of the Elliott, including building upon existing partnerships and new ones. 
  • We commit to collaborating with stakeholders in developing and implementing an education/outreach plan for the ESRF, including its human and natural history, and social and economic research opportunities.
  • We commit to the ESRF being a showcase and place of learning about the role of healthy working forest landscapes to local economies, resilient ecosystems, innovative and competitive products, and healthy communities.
  • We commit to principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion associated with educational access and use of the ESRF for students of all backgrounds, ages, and levels.​

  • We commit to operating the ESRF as a research forest that is self-sustaining..
  • We commit to providing local jobs and other economic values associated with activities on the ESRF. 
  • We commit to the sustainable production of timber products and growing high-quality trees by maintaining approximately 19% of the forest in intensive timber production and about 20% in extensive timber production.
  • We commit to managing the ESRF locally, including key personnel living in the surrounding communities.
  • We commit to advancing financial partnerships tied to recreation, education, research, forest management, and habitat restoration that individually and collectively improve local economic and workforce benefits both on and off the forest. ​

The research forest exploratory process has engaged multiple Tribes. The continued involvement of Tribes is essential in the future management of the Elliott. We anticipate continued involvement from Tribes in advisory roles, committees, and/or operational levels of projects. We intend to establish government-to-government MOUs between the OSU College of Forestry and local Tribal governments. The MOUs will set standards and expectations for sustaining meaningful and productive partnerships in research, education, and outreach that directly co-benefits Tribal communities, individuals, businesses, and OSU.​

Governance and Financing

The OSU governance structure for an ESRF is direct and straightforward in its lines of decision-making authority and continuing connections to the State.  The structure allows for public access and accountability through representation on an ESRF Advisory Board and active communication and engagement with the OSU College of Forestry Dean and ESRF Executive Director.

The structure enables OSU to ensure the integrity of research goals while maintaining public access and values.

Note: Governance documents are under review by the DSL governance subcommittee and will be available soon. ​

OSU will accomplish financing the management and research programs on the ESRF through a combination of revenue generated through harvests associated with implementing the research,  and potential revenue generated through the sale of carbon credits (which is being explored at present). Gifts, grants, and contracts will also help to sustain the research projects on the ESRF.

As a part of this structure, it is anticipated that the OSU Board of Trustees will ensure OSU does not redirect university resources to cover shortcomings in ESRF revenue. Any excess revenue generated on the ESRF will prioritize and invest in supporting the ESRF's long-term feasibility and sustainability.

OSU is also proposing that terms be established to ensure the forest will be returned to the State of Oregon should unforeseen circumstances arise at any future time preventing continued ownership and management by OSU.

The bottom line – the Elliott State Forest will always be publicly owned.​

The governance and financing sections of the proposal are still rapidly evolving as OSU receives input from various stakeholders, and reruns financial models based on  feedback from the DSL Advisory Committee regarding the proposed research design. OSU plans to have more finalized versions of these documents available in November.​​​