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Elliott State Forest Remains in Public Ownership

Today the Oregon State Land Board voted 3-0 to keep the Elliott State Forest in public ownership, and to proceed forward with a process to determine how the Elliott will be managed as well as make the Common School Fund whole. At a time when public lands in the United States are under unprecedented threat, this represents a major step forward on the Elliott and sends a strong message that Oregon intends to protect its public lands.

Elliott State Forest Remains in Public Ownership

Photo by Tim Giraudier

May 09, 2017

Today the Oregon State Land Board voted 3-0 to keep the Elliott State Forest in public ownership, and to proceed forward with a process to determine how the Elliott will be managed as well as make the Common School Fund whole. At a time when public lands in the United States are under unprecedented threat, this represents a major step forward on the Elliott and sends a strong message that Oregon intends to protect its public lands. Audubon Society of Portland appreciates the leadership of Governor Brown and Treasurer Read in coming to this decision. Liquidation of public treasures like the Elliott State Forest should never have been considered and today, the Land Board made a decision that reflects the overwhelming public opposition to the threat of privatization.

“This decision removes a direct threat to the Elliott State Forest and to public lands in general at a time when when our public lands are under unprecedented threat,” said Portland Audubon Conservation Director, Bob Sallinger. “However, there is still important work that needs to be done. The legislature must approve bonding to help move this proposal forward and the state must put in place a process to develop a permanent management strategy that truly protects the incredible natural resources of the Elliott State Forest.”  

Now that the cloud of privatization has been lifted, Portland Audubon Society looks forward to working the the state and other stakeholders to develop a permanent management strategy for the Elliott State Forest. Our analysis of both the Governor’s and Treasurer’s plans is that they both contain important elements that could be part of a permanent management structure. We look forward to participating in working through the details. Portland Audubon favors an approach that would permanently and completely decouple the Elliott State Forest from the Common School Fund while retaining the entire forest in public ownership. We believe that any plan should fully protect the Elliotts older forests and imperiled species such as Coho Salmon, Northern Spotted Owls and Marbled Murrelets.

We now turn our eyes towards the legislature and strongly support both the Governor’s and Treasurer’s proposals to bond for $100 million as a critical step in beginning to decouple the Elliott from the Common School Fund. We also urge the legislature to pass the Trust Land Transfer Bill which represents an important tool to address the Elliott and other Common School Fund trust lands that may have high ecological value but produce limited revenue. 

“Today, the State Land Board took a significant step forward on the Elliott that reflects the public land values of Oregonians," said Sallinger. "We look forward now to working with the the Land Board, the legislature and other stakeholders to ensure that a plan is put in place that will keep the Elliott in public ownership and protect the forests, waters and wildlife that lie within its boundaries.”

 

 

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