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Exploring an Elliott State Research Forest

The Elliott State Forest was established northeast of Coos Bay in 1930 as Oregon's first state forest. Most of the 91,000 acre forest is overseen by the State Land Board and managed by the Department of State Lands. Read more Elliott history.

The Land Board has a modern vision for the Elliott: A public forest that has completed its obligation to funding schools, but will continue to contribute to conservation, recreation, education, local economies, and more as a research forest.

Since 2019, DSL and Oregon State University have worked together at the Land Board's direction to transform the Elliott State Forest into a publicly owned state research forest. The Oregon Legislature in 2022 passed SB 1546, which establishes an independent public agency to oversee the forest, sets expectations for public accountability and transparency, and locks in the Elliott’s ongoing contributions to conservation, economic growth, recreation, education, and forest research. 

DSL and OSU are continuing collaborative work to establish the Elliott State Research Forest and meet the deadlines in SB 1546.

We send regular updates on Elliott work, as well as notice of opportunities to learn more or provide comments, through our Elliott State Research Forest email list. Sign up for email updates

Happening Now

Developing the Forest Management Plan

Development of key chapters and sections of the Forest Management Plan (FMP) for the Elliott is ongoing, as is OSU’s consideration of comments received from stakeholders and the public. Published on Nov. 29, 2022, the current draft of the FMP is available here. (To access the most current version of the plan, click the folder titled "Current Version of FMP Working Draft." To see a summary of new and updated content in the current draft, click the file "Read FMP Update Notes.")

Visit OSU's Elliott website for additional information about the FMP. 

Elliott State Research Forest Habitat Conservation Plan 
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently concluded a public comment period on the draft environmental impact statement for the draft Elliott State Research Forest habitat conservation plan (HCP). The plan balances forest research and management activities with the conservation of rare species and their habitat in the Elliott State Forest. 

The purpose of an HCP is to establish clear boundaries for management and harvest on the forest in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and to ensure conservation of at-risk species such as salmon, spotted owls, and marbled murrelet. 

HCP Information and Resources 

Including East Hakki Ridge in the Elliott HCP
DSL recently concluded a public comment opportunity on including the East Hakki Ridge area of the Elliott State Research Forest in the proposed HCP for the forest. 

In December 2022, the Land Board voted to include the 788-acre East Hakki Ridge parcel in the Elliott State Research Forest and to decouple East Hakki Ridge from the Common School Fund along with the rest of the Elliott forestlands. East Hakki Ridge was not included in the draft HCP circulated for public comment by federal agencies in November 2022. DSL therefore sought input on the proposed inclusion of East Hakki Ridge in the HCP, as well as input on the management approach for the parcel. The information circulated for public comment depicts the upper limit of active management that would potentially occur in the East Hakki parcel, with the ESRF Authority Prospective Board  determining specific future management in coordination with Oregon State University.

Other Work in Progress
Research Forest Financial Plan
SB 1546 requires DSL, with input from financial experts, to review OSU’s financial plan for the research forest and determine the plan demonstrates financial viability. An initial independent review has been completed and discussion is ongoing.

Elliott State Research Forest Authority prospective board

The Land Board in December 2022 prospectively appointed the initial nine-member Elliott State Research Forest Authority Board of Directors. The appointments are effective on the Jan. 1, 2024 establishment date of the new agency. The prospective board will serve as informal advisors to the Land Board and DSL as work continues on the remaining steps required by SB 1546 to establish the research forest. 

Upcoming Meetings 
The public is welcome to attend meetings of the prospective board. The meeting agenda, Zoom link, and any meeting materials are posted the week before the meeting. Meeting summaries and past agendas and materials are available here. Past meeting videos are available here on the DSL YouTube Channel

  • Tuesday, June 6th (time and location TBD)
  • Monday, July 24th (time and location TBD)

Note: The Elliott State Research Forest Advisory Committee established in 2019 to provide input and insight on creation of an Elliott State Research Forest disbanded in December 2022. See archived advisory committee information.

The Land Board's Vision for the Elliott

The State Land Board voted in 2017 to keep the Elliott State Forest in public ownership, directing the Department of State Lands to move forward with work to achieve the Board's vision for the Elliott, 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 Land Board vision calls for “decoupling” the forest from the Common School Fund – compensating the Fund for the Elliott and releasing the forest from its obligation to generate revenue for schools. The appraised value of the forest is $221 million. 

A down payment of $100 million was made to the Common School Fund in 2019, through sale of legislatively approved bonds. In 2022, the Legislature provided the remaining $121 million in general funding to satisfy the Common School Fund obligation.

On December 13, 2022, the State Land Board voted to decouple the Elliott State Forest from the Common School Fund. The decoupling action, made possible by payment of $221 million to the Fund, frees forest of its historic obligation to generate revenue for K-12 public schools.

2022 Appraisal
A current appraisal for the ​Elliott was necessary for decoupling to occur. 

The Land Board also directed DSL to seek an HCP from the federal agencies responsible for enforcing the federal Endangered Species Act. The purpose of an HCP is to establish clear boundaries for management and harvest on the forest in compliance with the Act and to ensure conservation of at-risk species such as salmon, spotted owls, and marbled murrelet. 

DSL has submitted the Elliott State Research Forest Habitat Conservation Plan to federal agencies for review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. Visit the federal Elliott HCP website.

​Partial funding for HCP development has been provided through Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's Wildlife Grants Program in cooperation with the Federal Funding Agency, under Federal Award number F20AP00323.​​​

Elliott State Forest Key Moments and Documents

Dec. 2020 - The Elliott State Research Forest Proposal was presented to the State Land Board. The Land Board affirmed the Elliott State Forest's future as a research forest and directed continued collaboration and engagement to finalize remaining details. 

Oct. – Nov. 2020 - Approximately 1,700 comments were submitted on the draft OSU research forest proposal. Comments on the draft proposal assisted DSL and OSU in identifying areas where additional information, discussion, or consideration was needed. Comments were also provided to the State Land Board.  

Dec. 2019 – An update on progress was presented to the Land Board. The Elliott State Research Forest Advisory Committee also delivered a unanimous statement to the Board recommending that work continue. The Land Board directed DSL to continue work to explore transforming the Elliott into a publicly owned state research forest. 

Jan. – Dec. 2019 - DSL and OSU 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 engaged the public and various stakeholders in conversation. The research forest concept was incorporated into the in-progress habitat conservation planning process.

Dec. 2018 – The Land Board directed DSL and OSU to begin exploring the Elliott State Research Forest concept.

May 2017 – The Land Board voted to keep the Elliott in public ownership and directed DSL to move forward with a public ownership project for the forest. Learn more about the project.

July 2012  A lawsuit over endangered species affects harvest levels and significantly reduces revenue. The Elliott begins to cost rather than contribute to the Common School Fund, with maintenance costs, legal fees, and other expenses adding up to millions over subsequent years.

1955 – The state began actively managing the Elliott. Timber harvest revenue goes to the Common School Fund and covers the cost of forest management.

1930 – The Elliott State Forest was established as Oregon's first state forest.

1927 – President Calvin Coolidge signed a bill authorizing the exchange of Common School Fund lands for a large block of land from the Siuslaw National Forest – what would become the Elliott State Forest.

1859 – The US Congress granted Oregon nearly 3.4 million acres of land upon statehood for the purpose of funding Oregon's K-12 public schools

Related websites 

OSU Elliott State Research Forest Website. (Research forest proposal background, OSU Exploratory Committee Roster, details about the Elliott State Research Forest Science Advisory Panel, etc.)


Elliott Research Forest project:
Brett Brownscombe
Permits and forest management:
Ryan Singleton, Forester

Visiting the Elliott

   Current fire restrictions (fire season has ended)

   Apply for a firewood cutting permit

   Map of general forest ownership

   Map of geo-referenced forest ownership

There are no established trails or restrooms. There are no trash receptacles, so keep the Elliott State Forest healthy by bagging and carrying out all trash.

Project Resources

   Elliott Project Document Archive

   Expenses Overview (updated July 2022)
   Current and past Elliott State Research Forest meetings

Get Involved

   Public Meetings Calendar

   Sign up for email updates

   Learn about the accessibility of our documents and meetings.

News Releases