State wants public’s opinions on removing Elliott State Forest from public school support
Wednesday, October 17, 2018
The Department of State Lands is seeking feedback on a report about severing the Elliott State Forest’s link to Oregon public school funding.
Oregon’s Common School Fund forest lands, which by law provide income for public schools, include 82,500 acres of the Elliott northeast of Coos Bay. In recent years, restrictions on logging and calls for public use and habitat protection have drastically reduced the forest’s income.
OSBA has pressed the State Land Board for years to fulfill its fiduciary duty to manage the lands to maximize schools’ benefit.
The Department of State Lands is working to decouple the land from the Common School Fund while retaining public ownership to protect sensitive habitat areas. The 2017 Legislature provided $100 million in bonding for the Common School Fund for lost Elliott income, and in January, the department signed a contract with Oregon Consensus to develop a plan by spring 2019.
Oregon Consensus, a public-policy mediation program, produced its stakeholders report for the State Land Board meeting on Oct. 16. The report summarizes interviews with interested parties, presents key issues and provides process recommendations. The public can submit feedback until Nov. 15 by web form or mail at “Elliott State Forest Project, 775 Summer St. NE, Ste. 100, Salem OR 97301.”
Oregon Consensus expects to convene an advisory group and develop recommendations for decoupling by the spring. The $100 million in bonds are scheduled to be issued in February, but that is about $120 million less than the forest’s appraised value.
OSBA Executive Director Jim Green has testified that any steps with the Elliott must provide full value for schools.
The State Land Board will discuss the Elliott, including public feedback, at its Dec. 18 meeting.