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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 a Common School Fund land asset overseen by the State Land Board and managed by the Department of State Lands. More Elliott history.

For many years, the Elliott has been at the center of passionate conversations, with growing tension between the forest’s historical role of helping fund public schools and the forest’s potential to provide benefits beyond harvest revenue. The State Land Board has a modern vision for the Elliott: A public forest that has completed its obligation to funding Oregon schools, but will continue to contribute to conservation, recreation, education, local economies, and more as a research forest.

At the Land Board’s direction, Oregon Department of State Lands and Oregon State University have worked together since 2019 to explore transforming 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.

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. Key draft chapters and sections may be presented to the State Land Board for potential action at the Dec. 13 Land Board meeting.  

View the current draft FMP
Published on Nov. 8, 2022, the current draft of the FMP is available here. (To see a summary of new and updated content in the current draft, click the file "Read FMP Update Notes." To access the most current version of the plan, click the folder titled "Current Version of FMP Working Draft.") The next updated FMP draft will be the draft presented to the State Land Board, and will be available in early December. This webpage will be updated when the new draft is available.

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

New! Elliott Advisory Committee Update 

The Elliott State Research Forest Advisory Committee, which has been providing input and insight on creation of an Elliott State Research Forest since 2019, will disband in December 2022. During the Dec. 13 State Land Board meeting, the Land Board will consider appointing the first voting members of the Elliott State Research Forest Authority Board of Directors. Learn more in DSL Director Vicki Walker's Oct. 25 update to committee members

New! Comment on the Elliott State Research Forest Draft EIS and HCP 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has opened a public comment period on the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) 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. 

Review the draft EIS and HCP
The draft EIS and HCP are available on the Service website for the Elliott HCP.

Submit Comments to the Service by Jan. 3 
Comments will be accepted through Jan. 3, 2023. Provide comments online at www.regulations.gov by following instructions for submitting comments on Docket No. FWS–R1–ES–2022–0029. Comments can also be submitted by postal mail to Public Comments Processing; Attn: Docket No. FWS–R1–ES–2022–0029; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Headquarters, MS: PRB/3W; 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041–3803.  

Attend the Dec. 13 Public Meeting
The Service will hold a virtual public meeting on Dec. 13, 2022, at 2 p.m. Pacific time. The meeting will include a presentation on the proposed HCP and draft EIS, followed by an opportunity for questions and discussion.

A link and access instructions to the virtual meeting will be posted to the Service website for the Elliott HCP at least one week prior to the public meeting date.

HCP Information and Resources 
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. 


Other Work in Progress
2022 Appraisal
A current appraisal for the Elliott is necessary for decoupling to occur. 
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 Advisory Committee

DSL formed an Advisory Committee to provide insight and input on the research forest idea. The committee, which represents a variety of perspectives on the forest, began meeting in April 2019. The committee will disband in December 2022. 

Upcoming Advisory Committee Meetings 
The meeting agenda and any materials are posted the week before the meeting

No advisory committee meetings are currently scheduled.


Upcoming Workgroup Meetings
Informal workgroups meet to discuss specific topics, including developing a forest management plan. Workgroup meeting notes, including links to meeting videos when available, are here

Forest Management Planning Workgroup Meetings
The meeting agenda and any materials are posted the week before the meeting

No FMP workgroup meetings are currently scheduled. 

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.

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. 


On October 8, 2021, DSL submitted the Elliott State Research Forest Administrative Draft Habitat Conservation Plan to federal agencies for review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. Read the Department's submittal letter​​.
 
HCP Documents​
Elliott HCP Administrative Draft, Sept. 2021
Elliott HCP Working Draft, May 2021
Feedback Received on the Working Draft
Working Draft HCP Information Session videos (YouTube) and Presentation (PDF)


​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.)





Contact

Elliott Research Forest project:
Meliah Masiba
971-332-0313
Meliah.M.Masiba@dsl.oregon.gov
Permits and forest management:
Ryan Singleton, Forester
541-388-6289
Ryan.Singleton@dsl.oregon.gov

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.


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