A new start for a public forest.
This May, Oregon will mark the first anniversary of our win to keep the Elliott State Forest in public ownership. Wild Salmon Center is staying focused on the future of the forest. In partnership with the Oregon Hunters Association, we’re providing critical input to the state as it re-envisions the Elliott as a thriving forest with a strong emphasis on both recreation and conservation.
When this coastal gem near Coos Bay was up for sale last year, our strong coalition of hunters, fishers, conservationists, and businesses fought to keep these public lands in public hands. The State Land Board responded by unanimously cancelling the sale of the Elliott. This win laid the groundwork for protecting a forest spanning 82,000 acres of diverse habitat, including rare old growth stands and critical habitat for Oregon coast coho salmon.
Thanks to leadership from Governor Brown and Senate President Peter Courtney, the Legislature took on the root of the problem. The Elliott State Forest is obligated to provide funding to Oregon schools through timber harvests, which created pressure to harvest at unsustainable levels. The state Legislature found a way to address this problem, by passing $100M in state bonds for schools, thereby reducing the pressure to harvest. The Legislature also provided funding to engage the public in planning a future for the forest based on a wide spectrum of values.
As we join that planning process, Wild Salmon Center envisions an Elliott that is a model for state forest management, with ample protections for fish and wildlife, expanded opportunities for recreation, and forest harvests focused on maintaining a healthy forest with a range of historic habitats. We continue to stay focused on keeping this issue front and center with State Land Board. As we get deeper into planning later this year, we will keep you up to date on new developments and opportunities to provide comments to the state on the future of the Elliott.