Exploring an Elliott State Research Forest
The Department of State Lands (DSL) and Oregon State University (OSU) are working collaboratively to explore transforming the Elliott State Forest into a publicly owned state research forest.
In December 2018, the State Land Board directed DSL and OSU to begin examining the Elliott State Research Forest concept. DSL and OSU then launched an exploratory process. DSL convened an Elliott State Research Forest Advisory Committee, and OSU established an exploratory committee within its College of Forestry. DSL and OSU also engaged tribes, local governments, state agencies and stakeholders in conversation, and held public events and listening sessions. Additionally, the research forest concept was incorporated into the in-progress habitat conservation planning process.
An update on progress made was presented to the Land Board on December 10, 2019.
The Elliott State Research Forest Advisory Committee also delivered a unanimous statement to the Board recommending that work continue. Read the Committee statement.
The exploratory work will continue during 2020, with a research forest proposal anticipated to be presented to the Land Board in late 2020. A successful proposal 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
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, began meeting in April 2019. ESRF Advisory Committee Roster.
Past Advisory Committee meeting summaries and materials:
OSU Exploratory Work
. For information on Oregon State University’s efforts related to the development of an Elliott State Research Forest proposal, visit the OSU Elliott State Forest website
. The website includes an OSU Exploratory Committee Roster, as well as information about other experts working with OSU.
Public Events. Public events will be held during the planning process for Oregonians to learn more and to provide input. Please watch this space for announcements on future meetings or events. To date, public informational meetings have been held in Coos Bay, Portland, Salem, and Roseburg. OSU also held listening sessions in North Bend, Reedsport and Roseburg
Jan. 27, 2020: Getting down to details on the Elliott
Join the Elliott State Research Forest email list! DSL provides regular email updates via the mailing list. Important: To sign up for the mailing list, check the Elliott State Forest Updates box on the DSL mailing list page.
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.