Simply Explained: Why Oregon is Selling the Elliott State Forest

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With the recent decision by the Oregon State Land Board to sell Oregon’s Elliott State Forest many Oregonians are rightfully outraged. However, most Oregonians are wondering why the state even considered such a drastic action.

Let’s examine how and why the state is being forced to sell our public land.

Reason One – Constitutional Requirement

The Elliott State Forest became Oregon’s first state forest in 1930. According to the Oregon Department of Foresty’s Elliot State Forest Management Plan, through timber sales, the state forest has contributed over $900 million to the Common School Fund. The Common School Fund is how Oregon pays for K-12 education.

The Oregon Constitution requires that the state maximizes revenue for the Common School Fund through timber management on the Elliott State Forest.

Between 1995 and 2010 the Elliott State Forest averaged approximately 25 million board feet of timber harvested. With that said, the forest contains an estimated 2.7 billion board feet of timber.

However, by 2013 that dropped to only 5 million board feet (an 80% drop).

The state forest isn’t free to own. There are operating costs such as maintaining roads, paying staff, and other costs. At only 5 million board feet of timber harvest, the forest cost the Oregon Department of Forestry a deficit of $3.3 million dollars.

How did that happen? Let’s look at the events that caused the decline in timber harvest.

OregonLive

OregonLive

Reason Two – Lawsuits and Anarchy Halt Logging

In a Facebook post after the state announced they would pursue selling the forest, Cascadia Wildlands said they are, “Working overtime to ensure that the stately forest is not sold off to equity investors and on a solution with a diversity of stakeholders that retains it in public ownership for its incredible values, including clean water, carbon storage, recreation and restoration timber jobs.”

However, evidence points to Cascadia Wildlands, other environmental groups, and anarchists as the culprits creating the situation we find ourselves in today.

  • July 2009 – Road Blockade Stops Logging In Elliott State Forest: Call For Action, Anarchist News

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Today, a group of Cascadia Earth First!ers and Rising Tide members took action against the continued liquidation and destruction of Oregon’s Elliott State Forest. Using sky pods, bipods, road blockades, overturned cargo vans, lock downs and many other beautiful installations, the road to Umpcoos Ridge timber sale has been occupied, held and reclaimed for the forest, the people and future generations.

You can see more images from this forest occupation here.

 

  • November 2012 – Lawsuit blocks logging in Elliott State Forest, The Bulletin

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  • September 2013 – Protesters who rappelled down the Capitol building arrested, Fox12 Oregon

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Two climbers used a harness and human anchors to rappel down the side of the building and hang a giant banner from the top.

The protesters hung a giant banner that condemns the “clear-cutting for profit” of the Elliott State Forest. Jason Gonzales, representing an organization called “Cascadia Forest Defenders,” said their goal is to get the attention of the governor and “the people of Oregon.”

 

  • November 2016 – Where are the environmentalists now that Elliott State Forest is for sale?, Statesman Journal

Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it.

For decades, the Elliott State Forest has quietly churned out millions of dollars for the Oregon school system. The revenue was generated from the sale of carefully planned timber sales crafted by the Oregon Department of Forestry. All went well until zealots filed lawsuits and protesters blocked roads to halt timber harvesting on the Elliott. Their radical strategy brought timber sales to a virtual halt on some 82,500 acres of prime, tree-growing lands.

It’s understandable that you’re angry over the potential sale of the forest. However, it’s important that you direct your anger at the correct individuals – Cascadia Wildlands, Oregon Wild, EarthFirst, Cascadia Forest Defenders, and partner organizations.

In fact, their antics are not limited to the Elliott State Forest. According to the Bend Bulletin, more than 50 lawsuits that list Oregon Wild as the plaintiff have been filed in Oregon and regionally since 2004.

These are not the actions everyday Oregonians deserve, and Oregon’s elected officials should not tolerate this behavior any longer.