The Oregon Department of Justice has given the “all-clear” on a plan to convert the Elliott State Forest into a research forest in partnership with Oregon State University.
Last month, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled against the 2014 sale of the East Hakki Ridge parcel, stating that the Elliott Forest must remain under state ownership. During a meeting of the State Land Board on Tuesday, Gov. Brown inquired if the ruling would apply to the proposal from OSU.
According to Assistant Attorney General Matt DeVore, it does not. “Currently the forest is owned by the state of Oregon as a component of the common school fund and the proposal would have OSU managing the forest as a research forest — but it wouldn’t be a change in ownership.”
The same day, the Department of State Lands and OSU updated the board with a report on their exploratory efforts, including: an OSU-led exploratory committee; input from an advisory committee of stakeholders convened by DSL; feedback received in multiple public forums; and conversations with tribal governments, local governments, statewide and local issue-specific stakeholder groups, and other interested Oregonians.
TRANSITIONING ELLIOT TO OSU, DISCUSSION CONTINUES
On Tuesday, OSU released a statement saying they would continue discussions with the DSL to take over management of the Elliot State Forest. The university states there will be more meetings over 2020.
According to Anthony S. Davis, interim dean of the College of Forestry, the initial plan for the forest allocates 58% of the land for conservation, 26% to extensive, multiple-values management, and 16% to more intensive management.
“As we find ourselves amid a climate crisis and a sustainability crisis, an Elliott State Research Forest offers an exceptional opportunity to produce science that addresses many of the most pressing issues related to forest conservation and management,” Davis said in a release. “The Elliott is the appropriate size and scope to answer vital questions to help us understand opportunities and tradeoffs as we manage forests for the myriad values they provide. Values such as habitat, carbon storage, timber production, and the quality and quantity of water for our communities.”
By Brandon Urey