Conservation groups decry vote by State Treasurer, Secretary of State to sell Elliott State Forest

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Governor puts forward solid plan to keep 83,000-acre forest public.

Salem, Oregon—February 15, 2017 – A broad coalition of conservation, hunting, and fishing groups across Oregon decried a state land board vote pushing the Elliott State Forest to brink of privatization yesterday.

Democratic State Treasurer Tobias Read and Republican Secretary of State Dennis Richardson both voted to continue with the sale of the forest to a timber firm, Lone Rock Resources.

Governor Kate Brown opposed the sale and promoted a framework to keep the forest in public ownership, saying, “It’s in the best interest of Oregonians that the forest stays in public hands for future generations.”

The conservation community has been working on several proposals that fit within Governor Brown’s vision to keep the land publicly accessible, protect older forests and critical salmon and wildlife habitat, safeguard streams and incorporate tribal ownership, while fulfilling the state’s obligation to fund public schools.

As the sale negotiations continue, Governor Brown directed the Department of State Lands to continue to explore options to keep the land public. That direction leaves open the possibility that Oregon Legislature and other parties can craft a viable public option.

Earlier in the meeting, Senate President Peter Courtney expressed his personal support for public ownership, pledging his help in the current session to secure bonding for the proposal.

Said Doug Moore, “We thank the Governor for continuing to work on a proposal that meets the many important public interests in this forest. What’s disappointing is the lack of vision from Treasurer Read and Secretary of State Richardson in failing to help her craft a long term solution that Oregonians will be proud of.”

Treasurer Read motioned to amend the Lone Rock proposal with modest conservation and recreation provisions. These are unlikely to meet the broad conservation and public access goals outlined by the Governor and the conservation community.

“On the anniversary of the State’s birth, we should be honoring Oregon and all the values public lands offer Oregonians,” said Josh Laughlin with Cascadia Wildlands. “Instead, Treasurer Read and Secretary Richardson voted to privatize the Elliott State Forest, which means more clear cuts, muddy water and locked gates in our great state.”

“Public lands are under unprecedented attack across Oregon and the rest of the country. At a time when we need our public officials to stand up for public lands, Governor Brown is stepping up and Treasurer Read appears to be stepping aside,” said Bob Sallinger, Conservation Director with the Audubon Society of Portland.

The Lone Rock proposal to protect streams has standards far below the protections under the current Elliott State Forest plan. Meanwhile, thousands of acres of 100-year-old forest will be open to clearcutting.

“Our coastal salmon runs depend on public lands, and this sale sets a terrible precedent for other public lands in Oregon and across the West,” said Bob Van Dyk, Oregon and California policy director at the Wild Salmon Center.

Conservation groups will now turn to the legislature and other stakeholders to advance a public ownership option. The next State Land Board meeting will be April 11th.

Josh Laughlin, Cascadia Wildlands

Doug Moore, Oregon League of Conservation Voters

Tom Wolf, Oregon Council Trout Unlimited

Bob Van Dyk, Wild Salmon Center

Bob Sallinger, Portland Audubon

Cameron La Follette, Oregon Coast Alliance

Max Beeken, Coast Range Forest Watch

Noah Greenwald, Center for Biological Diversity

Governor Brown Proposes Elliott State Forest Plan to Retain Public Ownership, Protect the Common School Fund

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February 10. 2017
Ontario, OR—Governor Kate Brown today announced a plan for Oregon’s Elliott State Forest in advance of the Feb. 14 State Land Board meeting. Governor Brown released the following statement:

“The Elliott State Forest was created in 1930, through consolidating tracts of Common School Fund forest land scattered across Oregon. Since the mid-1950s the Elliott has produced in excess of $400 million for Oregon schools. About 90 percent (82,500 acres) of the Elliott State Forest is owned by Oregon’s Common School Fund – a trust fund for K-12 public education that is overseen by the State Land Board as trustees.

“Since 2013, because of harvest limitations prompted by a lawsuit over federally protected species, owning the Elliott has cost the Common School Fund more than $4 million. We must change the way we own and manage the forest, ways that benefit Oregon’s schools and children for the long term.

“Oregon’s public lands – our forests, parks, and beaches – are irreplaceable assets. Even in the face of complicated challenges, we must strive to protect the values Oregonians hold dear.

“Today I propose my way forward for the Elliott, a plan I believe is in the best interest of future generations of Oregonians.
• The Elliott is Oregon’s first State Forest, and has been a State Forest since 1930. Under my plan, the Elliott State Forest would remain in public ownership, with either the state or tribes owning the land.
• A bond proposal would be developed to include up to $100 million in state bonding capacity to protect high value habitat, including riparian areas, steep slopes, and old growth stands. The investment will go into the Common School Fund and decouple a portion of the forest from the Common School Fund trust lands.
• On the remainder of the forest, we will re-enter into negotiations with the Federal Services for a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) that will allow for sustainable timber harvest while protecting endangered and threatened species. We expect that harvest to average about 20 million board feet per year over the long term – the next 100 years of this state forest’s history.
• We hope to work with the tribes to regain ownership of their ancestral lands while protecting the Common School Fund.
“When the state adopted the protocol to sell the Elliott, there was no established value for the forest. Because we followed the protocol, we have an appraised value of $221 million.

“We know the Elliott is worth far more to Oregon’s children than $221 million. By investing in and protecting the highest quality habitat, areas where forest management is the most vulnerable to expensive and lengthy lawsuits, we are protecting marbled murrelets, owls, and coho salmon. At the same time, sustainable forestry management on the remainder of the land can generate continued financial returns for Oregon schools.

“We also know Oregon forests are a carbon sink, holding an estimated 3 billion tons of carbon. Growing trees is something the Elliott does well, and in public ownership the forest will help the state meet our climate goals. That, too, benefits Oregon’s school children, and all Oregonians for generations to come.”

ELLIOTT ACTION ALERT

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****The State Land Board can either stop the sale of the Elliott or sell it this Tuesday! ****

The Department of State Lands (DSL) released the agenda for the State Land Board meeting on February 14th in Salem. In it, the DSL has requested to proceed with the direct sale of the Elliott State Forest.

The Department will initiate negotiations in good faith with the plan proposers towards a binding Purchase and Sale Agreement (PSA), and an eventual transfer of ownership of the Elliott Property to the Elliott Forest LLC, unless and to the extent the Board directs the Department otherwise.”

In other words, unless the State Land Board tells the Department of State Lands to not sell the Elliott on Tuesday, it will be officially sold.

CALLS TO ACTION:

EMERGENCY MEETING TODAY, 2/10 @ 6PM in the Hall building room 312 in downtown Coos Bay.

Please join us if you would like to discuss what we need to do in the next few days leading up to the meeting on Tuesday, as well as how to have a strong local presence at the meeting. The Elliott could be sold and we should not let it happen quietly! Feel free to just show up, and f you cannot make it you can also email and let us know if you have any ideas or ways you would like to help at SavetheElliott@gmail.com.

CONTACT THE STATE LAND BOARD: Unless the Land Board decides to allow public comments and alternative proposals for the Elliott there will be no space in the meeting agenda. PLEASE CALL TODAY and urge them to accept public comment, and request the presentation of alternative proposals at the meeting tomorrow (and remind them that Oregonians do not want them to sell the Elliott!)

STATE LAND BOARD NUMBERS: Kate Brown (503) 378-4582, Tobias Read (503) 378-4329, and Dennis Richardson (503) 986-1523

STATE LAND BOARD MEETING THIS TUESDAY! A group will be carpooling from Coos Bay Tuesday morning, please respond to SavetheElliott@gmail.com if you would like to join. Wear green to show your support for the Elliott. The meeting is from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm at the Oregon Department of State Lands Land Board Room 775, Summer St NE, Salem.

What the State Land Board needs to know from us:

  • The Elliott needs to remain in public ownership.
  • The DSL is disregarding the Land Board’s decision in December to look into other options.
  • There are currently groups formulating alternative options for the Elliott and these should not be disregarded.
  • The common school fund needs to be decoupled from the revenue of the Elliott, but not at the cost of losing our public lands.

Who else to call and write to:

  • Call Senator Arnie Roblan and tell him that he needs to pressure the State Land Board to keep the Elliott public. Call (503) 986-1705 or email (Sen.ArnieRoblan@oregonlegislature.gov)
  • You can also email to Tobias Reed (oregon.treasurer@ost.state.or.us) and Dennis Richardson (dennis.richardson@state.or.us). The newly elected State Land Board members need to hear from us before they make a decision on Tuesday. Secretary of State Dennis Richardson and State Treasurer Tobias Read are the new members, and this will be their first State Land Board meeting.

Thank you for your continued support,

The Save the Elliott Coalition

Savetheelliott.com

Facebook.com/savetheelliottstateforest

Alternative Plans Sought for Oregon’s Oldest State Forest

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By Andrew Selsky, Associated Press, Dec 13, 2016, from The Daily Progress

KEIZER, Ore. (AP) — In a public meeting that exposed deep concerns about global warming and deforestation, Oregon’s top elected state leaders on Tuesday postponed a decision on the proposed sale of the Elliott State Forest to a timber company, instead making a pitch for alternatives that would maintain public ownership of the state’s first public forest.

Speaker after speaker came from cities, towns and farms to pack the meeting room in the Keizer Community Center, north of Salem. They beseeched their leaders to reject the sale of the 82,500-acre forest in the Coastal Range to Lone Rock Timber Co. and its tribal partners.

They said a line must be drawn to preserve public lands, expressing fear that a Trump presidency would try to sell some to enrich a few, and that the next administration would also ignore the threat of global warming.

The sale of the forest was proposed because timber harvest revenues that go into a school fund have dropped in recent years.

“Teddy Roosevelt and people like our first forester, Francis Elliott, went to great efforts to preserve these last great tracts of unclaimed land for future generations of Americans to enjoy and recreate on. I did not think I would have to be here in 2016 to defend them,” Joseph Metzler, a retired Coast Guard rescue swimmer from Coos Bay, told the State Land Board.

Those in flannel outnumbered those wearing suits at the 3½-hour meeting attended by more than 200 people.

Some school board representatives backed the sale, saying the $221 million it would fetch should go into the Common School Fund. Several speakers recommended that if the sale does not go forward, that the forest be removed from the Common School Fund portfolio so it would not suffer negative impacts with declining timber harvests.

Lone Rock, based in Roseburg, had said it was confident that it could turn a profit by extracting at least 35 million board feet per year from the forest while providing protections for older forests, streams, recreation opportunities and local jobs. The state has not logged nearly that amount in recent years. State officials have been unable to harvest much timber from the forest in recent years because of environmental protections and lawsuits.

“It is a sustainable harvest level based on the estimated 70+ million board feet of forest growth each year,” Jake Gibbs, director of external affairs of Lone Rock Resources, told The Associated Press in an email.

After years of sustained gains since 1997, net revenue from the forest fell from $5.8 million in 2012 to losses of $3.3 million in 2013 and $1.8 million in 2014, the Oregon Department of State Lands says. But 2015 saw gains. This year through 2019 are expected to be borderline.

People who came to testify before the board, composed of Gov. Kate Brown, State Treasurer Ted Wheeler and Secretary of State Jeanne P. Atkins, warned that no trespassing signs would go up and that the forest might be resold down the line. They said that a sale could embolden people like Ammon Bundy and his brother Ryan, who led the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon last winter.

Grandmothers and even children were among those who took three seats at a time before the board to testify. Clapping was banned, so people showed silent support for comments that they liked by waving their hands in the air. Some of those who spoke against the deal said Native Americans should get much more than the small share the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians would obtain in the deal.

At the close of the meeting, Brown encouraged those attending to help find a solution.

“This is your opportunity, and I expect that you will work quickly, collaboratively and thoughtfully and hope that we can come up with another proposal that will maintain the Elliott in public ownership,” she said to a burst of applause.

She said she is proposing that the state use up to $100 million in bonding authority to pay into the Common School Fund and relieve the Elliott of part of its fiduciary responsibility for the fund.

Oregon, with Legislature’s help, must re-examine its priorities on Elliott State Forest: Editorial

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The Oregonian Editorial BoardBy The Oregonian Editorial BoardNovember 27, 2016

ELLIOTT.JPG
The Elliott State Forest is Oregon’s oldest and remains the mainstay of forest lands in the Oregon Common School Fund portfolio. (Courtesy Oregon Department of Forestry)

The terrain near Coos Bay, in Oregon’s Coast Range, is steeply sloped, densely forested, and abundant in fish-bearing rivers and other wildlife. An 82,500-acre patch of it constitutes the Elliott State Forest, created on consolidated lands  transferred to Oregon by the federal government with the mandate its riches be turned to money so children could go to school and build a life.

Things went well for decades. Oregon’s Common School Fund, the repository for logging revenues from the Elliott and other such state-owned lands, funneled money annually to school districts statewide. The many sources of earnings in the fund this year will throw off $66 million for Oregon’s 197 districts – a not insignificant sum in a time when schools stretch dollars.

But the Elliott’s contribution fell sharply following the decline of logging and the sting of lawsuits over the state’s failure to properly manage habitat for protected species depending on the Elliott. The Elliott once generated more than $10 million a year for the school fund. But it’s been in the red or netted less than $1 million in recent years, Andrew Theen of The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

Not unreasonably, state officials panicked. Bound by the state’s Constitution to eke money from the forest for schools but unable to do so for so long, they decided last year to find a way out and put a For Sale sign on the forest. The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians joined Lone Rock Timber Management Partners recently in offering $220.8 million, most of it Lone Rock’s money, and pledged to sustainably log the forest while boosting public access and properly steward its many environmental values. The bid was under review last week, and the Oregon Land Board – comprising Gov. Kate Brown, Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins and Treasurer Ted Wheeler – meets Dec. 13 to consider it.

This proposition should stop cold in its tracks – at least until the Legislature can probe and articulate the value of Oregon lands held in the public trust. Once covering more than 3 million acres, Oregon’s Common School Trust lands now comprise just 780,000 acres. Should the Elliott, the most abundant of the state’s forestlands held in trust, be next to go? Not yet, if at all.

The question is whether Oregon should divest itself of such prime land at all…

It is gratifying that the Cow Creek would reclaim once-tribal lands and a growing stake in the forest’s management. Lone Rock is persuasive, too, in its capacity to ramp up logging while honoring environmental codes and maintaining profitable timber output. But land management has changed since federal turf was deeded to a state with few people, little industry and modest schoolhouses.

Resource extraction and development stressed natural systems. Lawsuits and environmental regulation worked to limit timber harvests, hobbling Oregon’s timber-dependent communities. Forests are now credited with air-cleaning properties: Portland-based EcoTrust in 2011 calculated that an unlogged Elliott would store 46.6 million metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2050 – more than two thirds the amount of greenhouse gases emitted statewide in 2007. While that puts no money in the school bank, climate regulation is expensive, and likely to become more so, even with political uncertainty ahead. Separately, the Elliott is valued as prime habitat for the marbled murrelet, a sea bird under endangered species protection.

The question isn’t whether the Cow Creek proposal is good; it may be, given the parameters of the state’s invitation for bids. Instead the question is whether Oregon should divest itself of such prime land, rich in resource and environmental value, because it fails to meet a narrow mandate conceived long ago.

Lawmakers must engage the question and explore all possibilities, among them ownership by conservation groups and state land transfer arrangements as seen in neighboring Washington state. Brown, Atkins and Wheeler will hear testimony next month but should defer to the Legislature on the core question of divestiture. Wheeler, in an interview with The Oregonian/OregonLive, wisely said the Elliott was not a “hair-on-fire” problem whose solution should be rushed and that “this is an opportunity for leadership in Oregon.”

Indeed. Let’s see it: from Brown, most of all. Wheeler and Atkins have worked diligently on the Land Board but will be replaced soon by Tobias Reed and Dennis Richardson. What’s needed from them and lawmakers is a new definition of how the Elliot State Forest can truly benefit Oregonians over the next century – and a plan to achieve it that can be executed in 2017.

-The Oregonian/OregonLive Editorial Board

10 Things to Know about the Elliott State Forest Sale

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By Ecotrust, Published November 16, 2016

An invaluable cultural and conservation resource, we believe the Elliott should be in public or tribal ownership forever.

The Department of State Lands today announced that they have a single bid to purchase the Elliott State Forest, led by Roseburg-based Lone Rock Timber Company. Without commenting on the specifics of the submitted proposal, Ecotrust firmly believes that the Elliott is an Oregon State treasure like no other—and that we cannot afford to lose its many public values forever.

Ecotrust was one of four dozen parties to submit a formal expression of interest in the future of the Elliott last spring, and this week we submitted a letter to the state land board requesting an extension of the transfer opportunity process. You can read the full text of our letter here, but here are ten things we think are important considerations as the process moves forward:

  1. The Elliott Transfer Opportunity has revealed that the Elliott is invaluable from a public conservation and cultural resource perspective. Ecotrust firmly believes the Elliott should be in public or tribal ownership, and has formally expressed our interest to the Department of State Lands in securing the long-term protection of this invaluable property.
  2. The Elliott is the most significant, viable marbled murrelet habitat outside of federal lands in the State of Oregon with new occupied sites consistently showing up, despite being under-surveyed for the presence of the sea-faring bird. It is also home to nine other Endangered Species Act listed, proposed, and candidate species and over six dozen species of concern. The Elliott is also critical for the protection and recovery of Oregon coastal coho, supporting close to a quarter of the State’s wild population.
  3. Endangered Species Act liabilities challenged the State’s timber-focused management and resulted in the State losing more than $5 million from 2013-2014.
  4. The Department of State Lands (DSL) requirements for protection of public values are inadequate to safeguard the important current and potential future marbled murrelet habitat. DSL requires only 20,625 acres to be protected from harvest in perpetuity, and has made it clear that these protected acres can be stands of any age. So protection of old growth forest and most critical habitat is not secure. The DSL has also made clear that to meet this requirement for permanently protected acres the new owner can include riparian buffers and move these protected areas around the landscape over time. There are currently 37,338 acres of older forest on the Elliott. The DSL minimum requirements would protect 50% at most of these unique stands but will likely protect less.
  5. The DSL did work hard to come up with a process that is transparent and that forced coalitions of unlikely partners.
  6. However, the process we are working within is best-suited for commercial timberland companies, TIMOs, and integrated forest products companies. The three and a half-month timeframe between the end of July through mid-November did not allow the conservation community to obtain enough certainty or confidence around public conservation or private philanthropic funding, therefore limiting our ability to participate in a coalition.
  7. Ecotrust and partners have identified viable financing opportunities for a conservation-focused management plan, but raising $220.8 million, to finance the desired public benefits in 3.5 months (from the time when the fair market value was released at the end of July) is not adequate for anyone outside the timber and financial investment industries.
  8. We see a way forward for the management of the Elliott in the manner that would enable the restoration and protection of the forest’s natural and cultural resources and also support the production of high-quality, timber through thoughtful, ecological forest management that would be certified to the highest third-party standards. Our vision for the management of the Elliott includes provision of public access for hunting and recreation, jobs for local communities, while expanding riparian buffers and extending protection for all stands older than 80 years of age, using a combination of carbon and conservation funding to support their protection.
  9. We also support the opportunity for tribal land repatriation at a meaningful scale, in a manner that would include tribes with an interest in the Elliott and allow for time and a process that could engage them.
  10. Following last week’s election, which puts the current protections on our federal forest lands at risk, Oregon has an even greater opportunity demonstrate our commitment to protecting our most valuable natural resources.

We sincerely hope that Governor Brown, Secretary Atkins, Treasurer Wheeler, and Director Paul will give this important opportunity the full consideration it demands.

Elliott State Forest: Timber company bands together with tribe for lone bid

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By Andrew Theen | The Oregonian/OregonLive, Nov 16, 2016

The Elliott State Forest is Oregon’s oldest state forest, and it’s produced timber revenue for K-12 education for decades. But after bitter fights over logging on the more than 82,500-acre land in Coos and Douglas Counties due to the presence of threatened species, state leaders are looking to sell the forest for $220.8 million [Courtesy of Tony Andersen, Oregon Department of Forestry].

An unconventional alliance between a Roseburg timber company and a tribal group submitted the lone bid for the Elliott State Forest, a $220.8 million transaction Oregon officials say is vital after years of slumping revenues.

One year after 50 organizations – from tribes to mega-timber companies to conservation groups – formally expressed interest in buying the 82,500-acre forest, only Roseburg-based Lone Rock Timber Management Partners and the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians went through with it, submitting their 75-page bid Tuesday just ahead of the state’s deadline.

The timber company said it wants in because it already owns land nearby and sees a path to sustainably harvest timber – even amid older-growth trees – while protecting threatened species. The tribe wanted to reclaim some of its historic territory and dissuade outside companies from prospecting in Oregon.

“This is kind of an unprecedented partnership,” said Jake Gibbs, Lone Rock’s director of external affairs. But, primed for opposition, he also urged conservation groups to put their skepticism about the arrangement “on hold for a bit.”

The prospect of selling public land to a private entity is still sacrosanct for many environmental, hunting and conservation groups. Through the partners have brought in The Conservation Fund – which helps preserve land in all 50 states – in as an adviser, they don’t see the merits.

“We’re concerned that this still looks like privatization,” said Bob Sallinger, conservation director of the Audubon Society of Portland.

The Elliott State Forest is linked to the Common School Fund, a state account for primary education. Though it currently has more than $1.5 billion in assets and distributed about $55 million to K-12 schools in 2015, the forest has been a money loser since 2012 amid lawsuits with environmental groups over the protection of habitat for threatened species like the northern spotted owl, marbled murrelet and coastal coho salmon. No longer financially viable, the state started mapping out an exit strategy in 2014.

Sallinger decried the state’s plan as a “manufactured crisis.”

On Wednesday, the day after turning in the paperwork, the partners said they hope their bid strikes the right chord with Oregon Department of State Land officials, which set the sale parameters and will ultimately decide if the proposal passes muster. The tribe and timber company emphasized that the bid comes from local sources and includes provisions to maintain public access to the public on at least half of the property.

On Tuesday, a coalition of Oregon nonprofits sent a letter to Gov. Kate Brown, Treasurer Ted Wheeler and Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins condemning the process. “Privatizing the Elliott State Forest would set an incredibly dangerous precedent nationwide,” the groups wrote.

That concern didn’t wane Wednesday.

Elliott State Forest sale: Timber, threatened species and politics collide

The Elliott State Forest could be sold for nearly $221 million before the end of the year. It’s a polarizing proposition.

Steve Pedery, conservation director at Oregon Wild, said the proposal is just what the state wanted. “They wanted a bid that got them out of the land management business,” he said, “and they wanted one that had enough wrapping paper and tinsel on it to look politically palatable.

“But a clear cut is just a clear cut.”

Sallinger remained dubious. “We’re going to give it a hard look.” Sallinger said he was particularly interested in the tribe’s participation, and acknowledged he’d just preliminarily examined the deal.

Michael Rondeau, the tribe’s chief executive, said Cow Creek reached out to Lone Rock to try and find an arrangement that worked for everyone.

“We were concerned about out-of-state or even out-of-country ownership,” he said. The tribe, which owns the Seven Feathers Casino Resort and other properties, has a well-established relationship with the timber company.

“We saw an opportunity to bring common goals together in actually managing a forest in a proper way,” he said.

Rondeau said the tribe also saw a way to reestablish its foothold in Douglas and Coos County, after ceding 800 square miles of land to the U.S. government. “That’s a very higher priority,” he said.

Under the arrangement, the timber company would own an 87 percent stake in the forest, while the Cow Creek nation would own the remainder. Tribal members estimated their contributions to be $16 million.

According to the proposal, Lone Rock would take a $110.4 million loan from the Northwest Farm Credit Services. Two Lone Rock company officials are expected to pay the rest of the bill. “All commitments are backed by currently-existing and readily-available funding sources,” according to the document.

The plan includes bringing in the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians and The Conservation Fund to help ensure public access on half of the 82,500-acre parcel.

The application included letters of support from Douglas County Commissioners, timber giant Roseburg Forest Products and other regional organizations.

If approved, Lone Rock pledges to create 40 new full or part-time jobs.

Some 20,625 acres of the land would be restricted from harvest to keep “older forest characteristics,” with 95 percent of those acres applying to trees more than a century old.

Before it was a money loser, the forest netted an average of $8 million per year for the Common School Fund between 1997 and 2012.

Gibbs said he expects his company could easily log at least 35 million board feet off the Elliott, a level the state hasn’t surpassed since 2000 and rarely approached in years since.

“We feel comfortable that we can do that sustainably, forever,” Gibbs said, while also meeting the habitat requirements to protect salmon, spotted owl and marbled murrelets.

Sallinger said that comment alone should raise “tremendous red flags.”

“If the state could get to 35 million board feet then it would have kept the forest,” he said.

Because it received just one bid, the state land agency could evaluate the proposal and approve it without holding a public meeting or vote. But that’s unlikely.

Julie Curtis, the department’s spokeswoman, said the agency would evaluate the Lone Rock and tribe’s proposal to see whether it meets state requirements.

The Oregon Land Board, currently comprised of Brown, Wheeler and Atkins, is scheduled to meet Dec. 13 and is expected to take testimony from the public. If the state agency doesn’t approve the deal, the land board could approve it in December.

— Andrew Theen
atheen@oregonian.com
503-294-4026
@andrewtheen

A Sportsman’s View: Don’t limit our access to America’s public lands

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Recently, hunters, anglers and all Americans recognized the importance of our public lands by observing National Hunting and Fishing Day and National Public Lands Day (on Sept. 24). It seems easy to take hunting, fishing and public lands for granted, and hard to imagine they could be in jeopardy. But these days, the fate of our great public lands estate — and, hence, hunting and fishing — increasingly is at risk.

As explained by Backcountry Hunters & Anglers President and CEO Land Tawney in the spring issue of Backcountry Journal: “Don’t be fooled by rhetoric that anti-public land activists simply want to shift ownership to states from the federal government. First, we the people own our public lands. Federal agencies are the caretakers. Second, history has shown that states are perfectly willing — and often economically driven — to sell land holdings. That’s the real goal here: to make public lands private property.”

And sportsmen would be the biggest losers. Consider the 91,000-acre Elliott State Forest in western Oregon. The state has put the entire forest up for sale, and it already has attracted potential buyers. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is putting 10,000 acres of state-owned land that is open to hunting and fishing up for sale, as OutdoorHub.com reported in September.

Colorado’s state trust land includes 3 million acres, but less than a quarter is open to hunting and fishing, and sportsmen are required to buy a permit to set foot on the land. The rest is leased to ranching, mining and drilling interests.

One Idaho lawmaker actually proposed leasing state land to outfitters for their exclusive use.

“Those are good examples of what might happen to all the federal land if it is turned over to the states,” Tawney warned at OutdoorHub.com in September.

However, sportsmen aren’t oblivious to this threat, and we’re not resting on our laurels. Sportsmen’s Access, a coalition of more than 40 U.S. manufacturers and conservation groups, is fighting back. Steven Rinella, author, hunter and host of the television show, “Meateater,” is a member of Sportsmen’s Access. He called the idea of land transfers “downright stupid.”

“Forfeiture of our federal public lands is another one of those ideas put forth by reckless politicians looking to make a short-term splash without any serious thought to the consequences of their actions,” Rinella said in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel last month. “This will lead to more gates, more industrial disturbance, and less wildlife.”

 This summer more than 30 national and state-level sportsmen organizations, representing millions of hunters and anglers, sent letters to Republican and Democratic platform committees, encouraging them to support America’s public lands. The correspondence was signed by groups like the National Wildlife Federation, Boone and Crockett Club, Dallas Safari Club, Ducks Unlimited, National Wild Turkey Federation, Pheasants Forever, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership and Trout Unlimited.

In Minnesota sportsmen and others also are fighting the twin specters of proposed (by PolyMet and Twin Metals) sulfide mines that are essentially guaranteed to pollute the waters of both the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and St. Louis River. PolyMet’s sulfide mining waste, for example, would flow into a tributary of the St. Louis River, which flows south to the Twin Ports, where it enters Lake Superior.

As Duluthian Lynn Clark Pegg said to City Council members last month: “This is a city issue … because we are downstream from this mine.”

Sportsmen, sportswomen and all Americans have a special stake in this fight. America is one of a handful of developed western democracies where hunting and fishing are broadly accessible regardless of income. We’ve been granted a precious legacy of access to public lands and waters. It would be criminal to leave future generations of Americans anything less.

David A. Lien of Colorado Springs, Colo., and formerly of Grand Rapids, is a former Air Force officer, co-chairman of the Minnesota Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (backcountryhunters. org), and the author of “Hunting for Experience II: Tales of Hunting & Habitat Conservation.” In 2014, he was recognized by Field & Stream as a “Hero of Conservation.” 

Get involved

The writer urges anyone who wants to help keep public lands in public hands to visit sportsmensaccess.org/.

Selling the Elliott State Forest is only latest chapter of mismanagement

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Published in the Oregonian, Opinions, July 14th, 2016

By Tanya Sanerib

Ever since members of the State Land Board voted to auction off an irreplaceable part of Oregon’s Elliott State Forest, they have tried to characterize their decision as a reasonable compromise to a difficult challenge. But the on-the-ground reality shows Oregon’s history of managing state lands has been far from balanced or reasonable.

For years, state land managers have failed to comply with the federal Endangered Species Act in managing state forests, allowing thousands of acres of old-growth and other forest habitat to be logged. In 2013, due to litigation by the Center for Biological Diversity, where I work, as well as the Audubon Society of Portland and Cascadia Wildlands, 1,700 acres of timber sales were suspended due to ESA violations related to the marbled murrelett, a rare, protected sea bird.

Faced with the prospect of managing instead of simply logging valuable public lands in the Elliott, the state claimed its only choice was to sell some of those lands. That misguided response is now barreling forward, with the fair market value of part of Elliott’s mature forests to be offered for sale.

The state says it has to find a way to generate income for schools from the Elliott, because education funding was part of the forest’s mandate when it was created. In fact, logging revenue from the Elliott has always represented a fraction of Oregon’s education budget. And the lion’s share of money from logging has always gone to timber companies, not schoolchildren.

Oregon’s ongoing focus on logging over habitat protections prompted the Center for Biological Diversity to join two June 2016 petitions seeking greater protections for murreletts. One asks the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to “uplist” the seabird from “threatened” to “endangered” status under Oregon law and the other asks the Oregon Board of Forestry to take new measures to identify and protect the bird’s forest habitats.

These petitions reflect what every Oregon school kid knows: The best way to protect the long-term interests of the next generation is to protect our forests, not just for our enjoyment or for species like marbled murrelets but because they hold part of the key to a livable future climate. A 2011 analysis showed an unlogged Elliott would store approximately 46 million metric tons of carbon dioxide by 2050, equivalent to approximately two-thirds of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions in 2007.

Selling our public lands is only the latest cop-out from state regulators who have routinely refused to do the hard work of managing Oregon’s public lands not simply as a profit center but as a public trust. Allowing an irreplaceable part of the natural world that still defines Oregon to fall into private hands is a risk that neither our children, nor Oregon’s already fragmented coastal forests, can afford.

Tanya Sanerib is a senior attorney at the Portland office of the Center for Biological Diversity.

No sale of our Elliott Forest

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Published in The World, Letters to the Editor, on October 10, 2016.

The State of Oregon plans to sell the Elliott Forest, 90,000 acres of your land because they failed to protect, defend and manage it for future generations. The last thing they should do is sell it off due to their failures in management. They should assign new folks to rethink the way is managed.

I believe there are already enough private timber lands in Coos County. They do a great job of supplying wood to the docks to be shipped overseas each year. They do a fantastic job of growing mechanized tree farms that produce timber fast and in an economically viable fashion. They buy and sell off their stocks and broker the timber farms for maximum profit for their stockholders.

This is what private timberlands are for, but this is not what our public lands are for. They should be managed for multiple use, recreation, timber, salmon, hunting and fishing, hiking, mushroom picking, birdwatching, nature observation, and education of our children concerning a love and respect for nature.

The State Land Board and Oregon Department of Forestry are to blame for most of this, as they failed to defend, manage and cherish our public lands with the respect it deserves. And I will not forget to blame uncompromising environmental groups for taking things too far and getting our land put up on the auction block through selfish litigation. Oregon Department of Forestry deserves credit for doing a good job of managing for endangered species and watersheds, much better than private timber folks. Many private timber companies eventually cut and run, like they have all done for the past 150 years in Southern Oregon. But these groups do not represent the people and children of Oregon and their selfish actions are much to blame for this environmental and financial mess.

If this sale goes through, everyone will lose 90,000 acres of their land due to this mismanagement forever. This needs to stop now, it is wrong to sell off our Public Lands. Oregonians must stop this before we regret it. I do not care who or what is to blame more for this mess, state or environmental groups, but I do care for our public lands, and I do care what happens to the Elliott State Forest!

Joseph Metzler

Coos Bay