Important Opportunities Ahead to Weigh-in on the Elliott State Forest

There are important upcoming opportunities to learn about a proposal to convert the Elliott State Forest into an Oregon State University Research Forest. The 82,000 acre Elliott State Forest is one of the crown jewels of the Oregon Coast Range. It is a stronghold for nesting Marbled Murrelets and contains some of Oregon’s most productive and pristine streams for coho salmon. It is an amazing place that deserves real and durable protections.

For decades, the Elliott was illegally clearcut by the State of Oregon. For the past decade Portland Audubon has been working with conservation partners to protect the Elliott. In 2011, Portland Audubon, Cascadia Wildlands and Center for Biological Diversity brought a successful lawsuit to protect the federally listed Marbled Murrelet and stop illegal timber harvest on the Elliott. In 2017, we were part of a coalition that fought back efforts by the State to sell the Elliott to private timber companies. For the past two years, we have served as one of the conservation representatives on a stakeholder advisory committee, along with representatives from tribes, timber interests, counties, schools and recreational users, which has been exploring the potential to convert the Elliott into an OSU Research Forest.

Photo by Tim Giraudier

How You Can Get Involved

While this proposal is still a work in progress, we believe that it has significant merit and we are working to bring this process to a successful resolution. Now is your opportunity to learn about the proposal and let OSU and the State know what you think.

While this proposal is still a work in progress, we believe that it has significant merit and we are working to bring this process to a successful resolution. Now is your opportunity to learn about the proposal and let OSU and the State know what you think.

Learn About the Proposal, Upcoming Public Outreach Events, and How to Comment: Click here.

Attend the First Information Session: Click here to register for the first information session is this Monday, October 26, at 5:30 p.m.

Attend the Hearing: Click here for information on the State Land Board’s hearing on this proposal on December 8. This is not a final decision, but it will be a very important step in charting the path forward.

About the Plan

This plan is still a work in progress. As with any complex plan there are trade offs necessary to meet the needs of diverse stakeholders, achieve substantial conservation outcomes, address legal requirements, and make everything pencil out. We believe that this plan has the potential to end decades of conflict over the Elliott and achieve very significant conservation outcomes.

The following are what we view as some of the strengths, compromises and unresolved issues contained in this plan:

Plan Strengths:

  • The plan protects more than 90% of the older forests (>65 years of age) in permanent reserves;
  • The plan places 66% of the entire forest (54,154 acres) in permanent reserves;
  • The plan creates a 30,000+ acres contiguous reserve area representing more than 37% of the entire forest;
  • The plan includes riparian buffers of 120-200 feet in any harvest areas along fish bearing streams and 50-200 feet along perennial non fish bearing streams and 200 foot buffers along the Millicoma River, significantly stronger riparian protections in the Oregon Forest Practices Act;
  • The plan protects trees and stands greater than 152 years of age which predate the 1868 stand replacement fire;
  • In 50 years, more than 70% of the Elliott will be mature forest as compared with approximately 50% today
  • The plan prohibits any spraying of herbicides in reserves and limits aerial spraying to 17% of the forest where intensive timber harvest is prescribed and only when no other alternative is practicable;
  • The plan bans the use of rodenticides to kill mountain beaver and other wildlife on the Elliott;
  • The plan will create the opportunity for significant research on a wide array of important topics;
  • The plan will increase opportunities for recreation on the Elliott;
  • The plan is predicated on full decoupling of the Elliott from the Common School Fund which will eliminate the anachronistic structure of tying school funding to timber harvest;
  • The plan will keep the Elliott in public ownership;
  • The plan creates real potential to bring together historically antagonistic stakeholders in a new era of collaboration for the Elliott.

​​​​As with Any Complex Plan, There Are Also Real Tradeoffs:

  • Clearcutting will continue on approximately 14,579 acres (18% of the Elliott) and will be limited to stands less than 65 years old and would be done on 60-year rotations and would include riparian buffers as noted above;
  • Selective harvest will occur on 14,654 acres which includes approximately 3,200 acres of older forest (>65 years old) including some Marbled Murrelet occupied habitat;
  • Very limited aerial spraying of herbicides (only where other methods are not practicable) will be allowed in clearcuts.

Significant Unresolved Issues that Are Still in Process:

    • Governance structure—Portland Audubon is committed to strong public involvement, transparency, and enforcement mechanisms as essential parts of any agreement. Any final plan must include these elements;
    • The potential to secure carbon credits;
    • Habitat Conservation Plan (which should mirror the OSU Research Forest Plan)
    • Funding mechanisms

Please note: This plan is still being refined so numbers could shift slightly.

Please participate in this public process and let the State and OSU know what you think. Thank you for helping protect the Elliott!