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Exploring an Elliott State Research Forest


Elliott State Forest open for most activity. As of 9/20/21, wildfire restrictions for camping, use of firearms, and motor vehicle travel on roads in the Elliott State Forest have been lifted. Campfires remain restricted. Learn more.


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.

Since 2019, DSL and Oregon State University have been working together to explore transforming the Elliott into a publicly owned state research forest. The Land Board in December 2020 confirmed the Elliott's future as a research forest and directed details to be finalized over the next two years. Elliott State Research Forest 2021-22 Project Timeline.

Happening Now

Upcoming Elliott Information Sessions

Please join DSL and OSU for Elliott State Research Forest information sessions:

Monday, September 27

5:30 to 7:30 p.m. via Zoom
Join the Zoom meeting
Join by phone: 253-215-8782
Meeting ID: 848 0192 9303
Passcode: 41061455

Wednesday, October 6
5:30 to 7:30 p.m. via Zoom
Join the Zoom meeting
Join by phone: 253-215-8782
Meeting ID: 847 6344 4877
Passcode: 42893054

During each info session, the project team will present updates on public ownership, the habitat conservation plan, forest management planning, decoupling, and more. Each session will also include time for asking questions and providing input. 

Exploring Elliott Forest Ownership

Keeping the Elliott State Forest publicly owned is essential to the State Land Board's vision for the forest. As the Department of State Lands and Oregon State University began exploring creation of the Elliott State Research Forest, the initial assumption was that OSU would both own and manage the forest. In engaging with stakeholders and the public over the past few years, we have realized broadening our exploration of ownership options could help us successfully achieve all elements of the Land Board's vision. 

DSL and OSU are now exploring a new idea for what public ownership of a research forest could look like. Establishing a stand-alone entity to own the forest, with an independent board of directors and budget, could help ensure the creation of an enduring world-class research forest in Oregon that is governed with the accountability and transparency that Oregonians expect.

DSL and OSU outlined this idea during a recent Elliott State Research Advisory Committee meeting:

Further exploration of this idea is needed. We will continue to engage with the Advisory Committee and the public regarding public ownership (see upcoming meeting information below) as we build on all the work done-to date and collaborate to create the Elliott State Research Forest.

Habitat Conservation Planning in Progress

Work continues to prepare a habitat conservation plan for submission to federal agencies for review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process.

Working Draft HCP and Resources

Stay Informed About the Elliott

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 continue to meet as work to finalize research forest details continues. 

Upcoming Advisory Committee Meetings 
Meeting information is posted the week before the meeting

Future Advisory Committee meeting dates: 
  • November 10, 2021
Upcoming Workgroup Meetings
Informal workgroups meet to discuss specific topics, including governance and developing a forest management plan. Workgroup meeting notes, including links to meeting videos when available, are here

Governance Workgroup Meetings
  • No meetings currently scheduled

Forest Management Planning Workgroup Meetings 
  • No meetings 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's vision calls for decoupling the Elliott from the Common School Fund and compensating the Fund for the forest.

In December 2018, the Land Board approved a declaration to implement the statute enacted by the Oregon Legislature in 2017 that provides $100 million in bonding toward decoupling the Elliott from the Common School Fund.

The appraised value of the forest of is $221 million. The remaining $121 million needs to be accounted for decoupling to occur, and to transfer ownership and management responsibilities to OSU. Work to establish a framework for decoupling is ongoing, with progress reports anticipated in 2021. ​​

​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 initiated the HCP process in 2018, contracting with IFC, Inc. to develop the plan. DSL is working with OSU to ensure that when submitted, a draft HCP will reflect the terms and conditions necessary for OSU to manage the forest for research purposes, or – should transfer to OSU not occur – for DSL to manage the forest for the benefit of the Common School Fund.

HCP drafting is underway, with a working draft now available​.

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 & 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:
Ali Ryan Hansen
Phone: 503-510-6860
Permits and forest management:
Ryan Singleton, Forester
Phone: 541-388-6289
Amber McKernan, Property Manager
Phone: 541-388-6345

Visiting the Elliott
Fire Season is in effect. Firewood cutting is suspended until the end of Fire Season.
There are no established trails and no restrooms or trash receptacles. Keep the Elliott healthy by bagging and carrying out all trash.

Apply for a firewood cutting permit
Current fire restrictions
Map of general forest ownership
Map of geo-referenced forest ownership

Elliott State Forest Documents
Elliott Project Document Archive Expenses Overview--Updated Nov. 2020

News Releases

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