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Exploring an Elliott State Research Forest

Mountains coverd with green trees and vegetation.The Elliott State Forest was established northeast of Coos Bay in 1930 as Oregon's first state forest. The Hanis (Coos) and Quuiich (Lower Umpqua) people are the original people and stewards of the lands that we now refer to as the Elliott State Forest. Today, 82,500 acres of the Elliott are overseen by the State Land Board and managed by the Department of State Lands. 

The Land Board's vision for the Elliott is a public forest that has completed its obligation to funding schools, but will continue to contribute to conservation, recreation, education, Indigenous culture, local economies, and more as a publicly owned research forest.

Since 2019, DSL and Oregon State University have worked together to explore creating an Elliott State Research Forest. In December 2023, following an announcement by OSU regarding participation in management of the research forest, the Land Board affirmed continued desire to create a publicly owned research forest and advanced a pathway for establishing the Elliott State Research Forest in 2024 under DSL management. 

Stay Informed

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

The State Land Board's pathway framework outlines key actions, steps, and considerations for ESRF creation in 2024 under the Department's management. The pathway framework directs the Department to:

  • Craft and implement a DSL management structure to oversee operations. 
  • Create a structure for public engagement, accountability and oversight of the forest.
  • Complete the Habitat Conservation Plan and obtain federal permits needed to resume management activity on the long-idle forest.
  • Advance a Forest Management Plan to guide Department management and State Land Board oversight of the forest.
  • Craft a business plan including near-term budget needs for DSL management as well as long-term revenue plans related to timber harvest, carbon, state and federal funds. 
  • Resolve partnership conversations and identify the forest's research entity, looking to Oregon State University first.  

With the guidance of an advisory group that includes members of the original Elliott State Research Forest Advisory Committee and SB 1546’s prospective board of directors, the Department has developed a FY 2024 workplan​ for implementing the State Land Board’s pathway framework. 


On December 8, 2023, DSL Director Vicki L. Walker issued a financial viability determination for the Elliott State Research Forest. The determination concluded a research forest can be financiall​y viable. However, addressing the determination’s findings and related recommendations will provide additional confidence going forward. Read the financial viability determination here (PDF)​.​

The below materials are referenced in the determination: 

A financial viability determination was one of the enabling actions required by SB 1546. With OSU’s November 2023 announcement, SB 1546 will not take effect on January 1, 2024. Given DSL’s retained role as manager of t​he forest and continued desire to establish a research forest, the determination remains important to inform the pathway forward and ensure the Elliott State Research Forest is financially viable. ​

The draft habitat conservation 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. 

DSL is continuing to advance the HCP through the federal review process.​

HCP Information and Resources 

ESRF Oversight and Engagement 

Ensuring accountability, transparency, and meaningful engagement is critical to establishing and operating the Elliott as a public research forest. In April 2024, the State Land Board approved an Elliott State Research Forest oversight structure. In June 2024, the Land Board is anticipated to appoint a board of directors with oversight responsibilities for the ESRF. 

In the interim, DSL Director Vicki L. Walker has appointed an interim advisory group (see the roster here) to provide input and insight on ESRF work until the Land Board appoints an ESRF Board of Directors. The group includes members of the Elliott State Research Forest Authority prospective board appointed by Land Board in December 2022. Because OSU’s Board of Trustees did not vote on university participation, neither the Elliott State Research Forest Authority nor its board of directors were established as envisioned in SB 1546.

Upcoming Advisory Group Meetings 

The community is welcome to attend advisory group meetings. The meeting 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

Next meeting: Thursday, May 30, 2024

9 a.m. - 11 a.m. via Microsoft Teams
Meeting agenda and materials

Join the meeting online using the online meeting ID and passcode:
Online meeting ID: 238 321 488 450
Passcode: DFdDyZ
Dial 503-446-4951 to join the meeting by phone using the phone ID: 598 979 64#


Archived Meeting Materials

ESRF work to-date has been guided by two advisory bodies, the prospective board of the Elliott State Research Forest Authority and the Elliott State Research Forest Advisory Committee. Archived information about those entities and meeting materials are available here.

Continued Engagement of Many 

In addition to the continued engagement of key advisory stakeholders through the advisory group, DSL will continue to meaningfully engage Tribal governments, other government entities, people and groups with expertise and perspectives regarding the forest, potential partners, and the public as work to establish the ESRF continues.

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.​​​

Dec. 2022: The State Land Board decoupled the Elliott from the Common School Fund and the Elliott State Research Forest Advisory Committee was honored with a Land Board Award.

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 to assist DSL and OSU in identifying areas where additional information, discussion, or consideration was needed.

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. Meeting documents.

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.

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: At statehood, Oregon was granted nearly 3.4 million acres of land "for use of schools." ​These Common School Fund lands continue to support our K-12 public schools today.



CONTACT

Elliott Research Forest project
Brett Brownscombe
Brett.Brownscombe@dsl.oregon.gov

Permits and forest management
Ryan Singleton, Forester
541-362-6489
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 and no trash receptacles, Keep the Elliott State Forest healthy by bagging and carrying out all trash.