Exploring an Elliott State Research Forest
In December 2018, the State
Land Board directed the Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL) to work collaboratively with Oregon
State University (OSU) to develop a plan for transforming the Elliott State Forest
into a research forest. A successful plan will be consistent with the Land Board Vision for the forest, which includes:
- Keeping the forest publicly owned with public access
- Decoupling the forest from the Common School Fund, compensating the school fund for the forest and releasing the forest from its obligation to generate revenue for schools
- Continuing habitat conservation planning to protect species and allow for harvest
- Providing for multiple forest benefits, including recreation, education, and working forest research
and OSU anticipate a plan will be presented to the Land Board for consideration
in December 2019.
The Elliott State Forest is important to many Oregonians,
for many different reasons. Engaging with tribes, local governments, state
agencies, key stakeholders and the public is essential as the research forest
concept is explored.
Elliott State Research Forest Advisory Committee. DSL has formed an Advisory Committee to
provide insight and input on key elements of a proposed plan. The committee, which represents a variety of perspectives on the forest, will begin meeting in April 2019. Committee Roster
Upcoming Advisory Committee Meeting
April 10, 2019
Salem's Historic Grand Ballroom, 187 High St. NE, Salem 97301
Public Events. Public
events will be held during the planning process for Oregonians to learn more
and to provide input. DSL anticipates holding its first informational open
house in May, with others to follow as the process progresses. Event
information will be posted here when available.
DSL will provide regular updates throughout the planning
process via the Elliott State Forest email list. Join the email list. Updates will
also be posted here.
Background: The Elliott State Forest Public Ownership Project
In May 2017, the State Land Board voted to keep the
Elliott State Forest in public ownership and directed the Oregon Department of
State Lands to move forward with a public ownership project for the forest. With
this direction, DSL began to explore decoupling the forest from the Common
School Fund, and began development of a Habitat Conservation Plan for the forest.
Elliott from the Common School Fund
In March 2018, Oregon Consensus began gathering
information from a variety of stakeholders regarding the future of the Elliott.
The resulting report captured key themes, issues, and considerations for
successful decoupling. The report also outlined “assumptions” regarding the
Land Board’s expectations for decoupling. Those expectations serve as the
foundation for the Land Board Vision.
Potential public owners were asked to come before the
Land Board in December 2018 to express their interest in the forest. At that
meeting, the Land Board voted to explore development of a research forest as
the next step, and directed DSL to begin working with OSU to develop a proposed
During the December meeting, the Land Board also approved
a declaration to implement the statute enacted by the Oregon Legislature in
2017 that provides $100 million in bonding toward decoupling the Elliott State
Forest from the Common School Fund or compensating the fund for preservation of
Developing a Habitat
The Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) development process
began in summer 2018 and is continuing. DSL is overseeing development of an HCP
that will be consistent with research forest use, and has contracted with ICF,
Inc. to develop the HCP. OSU is engaging
in and supporting development of the HCP, including contributing technical
About the Elliott State Forest
Approximately 90 percent of the Elliott State
Forest’s 91,000 acres are a land asset of the Common School Fund. The act of
Congress admitting Oregon to the Union in 1859 granted land to our new state
specifically for the use of schools.
Oregon’s school lands are required – as a condition of their granting and by
our state constitution – to benefit schools. As a result, there is limited
flexibility in how the Elliott State Forest and other school lands are
Since the forest was established in 1930, revenue from timber harvest has been
the primary way the forest contributes to the Common School Fund. Before 2013,
the Elliott generated millions of dollars from harvesting on average about one
percent of the forest per year.
Since July 2012, because of harvest limitations prompted by a lawsuit over
federally protected species, owning the Elliott has cost Oregon schools over $3
million. The forest is projected to continue to lose money because of these
The Elliott State Forest Public Ownership Project seeks a solution that will address the financial impact to the school fund, while also achieving the other elements of the Land Board Vision.