Bill would change transfer process for assets like Elliott State Forest
Friday, March 24, 2017
The sale or transfer of the Elliott State Forest would not be affected by Senate Bill 847, but it would create a mechanism for handling similar situations in the future. (Photo by Gordon Oliver)
Senate Bill 847 would set up a land transfer account that would allow selling underperforming state trust lands to a tribe, federal agency or another state agency. Money from the transfer would go into the Common School Fund.
Currently, trust lands, such as the Elliott State Forest, are held in the Common School Fund and managed by the Department of State Lands. Assets are managed to create revenue for the Common School Fund. Twice a year payments are made to the Department of Education and dispersed to school districts through the state school funding formula.
The land transfer idea is modeled after one in Washington state, which has operated a state trust land transfer program since 1989. The Washington Department of Natural Resources reviews a list of proposed transfer properties with other state agencies and first submits an informational package to the Board of Natural Resources and then to the governor's office for submittal to the Legislature. The Legislature reviews the proposal, identifies a list of properties to transfer and sets a funding level.
SB 847 would give the Oregon Department of State lands a tool for managing problem assets. This bill is not intended to impact the Elliott forest, which is on track to be sold for $220 million and transferred out of the Common School Fund. However, under this bill the Legislature would have to approve the funds for any future transfers of land.
The bill was heard earlier this week in the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, chaired by Sen. Michael Dembrow (D-Portland).