Members of Oregon State University and the Oregon Department of State Lands met with the State Land Board on Dec.10 to present plans to transfer the Elliott State Forest to the OSU College of Forestry.
The vision for the forest requires that it stay in public hands, that it decouples the forest from the Common School Fund, and that conservation is a factor accounted for along with harvests. The Common School Fund is a pool of money that pays into public schools through the use of state resources on land associated with the fund. Decoupling the Elliott State Forest from the fund would release it from its requirement to provide for the fund.
The Elliott State Forest Advisory Committee did not come to a conclusion at the meeting, but rather, delivered a joint statement at the meeting to continue to pursue a plan for the Elliott State Research Forest.
“Our individual perspectives on the Elliott State Forest and our priorities for its future may differ. However, we agree that OSU should be provided the opportunity to address outstanding issues and determine if terms required to address those issues are consistent with the Land Board vision for the Elliott,” the statement read.
OSU’s handling of the old-growth forest has drawn some criticism from residents of Corvallis, such as Doug Pollock, an activist who started Friends of OSU Old-Growth. The group works to protect old-growth managed by the College of Forestry. Pollock believes the plan put forth calls for too much harvesting of older forests.
“By proposing to cut large amounts of mature timber, OSU will be drastically diminishing the carbon storage capacity of the forest,” Pollock said.
Ali Ryan Hansen, Communications Manager for the Oregon Department of State Lands, said that with no plan yet decided upon, “determinations about [harvesting] acreage and age are still outstanding.”
The Department of State Lands and OSU plan to present a proposal to the State Land Board in the fall of 2020.