New Members Overrule Governor
The two new members of the State Land Board voted to move forward with the sale of the Elliott State Forest in SW Oregon. Secretary of State Dennis Richardson and State Treasurer Tobias Read Outvoted Governor Kate Brown in accepting Read’s motion to proceed forward with three amendments. Brown, clearly upset, directed the Department of State Lands to prepare an alternative to keep the Elliott in state ownership.
The SLB decision means that the $220.8 million sale to Lone Rock Timber Management Co., the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians and the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siskiyou Indians will proceed with the new conditions proposed by Treasurer Read.
The 84,000 acre Elliott State Forest has been the center of controversy following the adoption of a new land management plan in 2012. The SLB decided to sell the Elliott when it began costing the Common School Fund millions of dollars to maintain ownership of the forest. School interests, including school administrators and teachers. support selling the forest.
Fifty entities expressed interest in buying the Elliott. However, in 2016 Lone Rock and the two tribes were the only bidders. Read called for using $25 million in bonding to buy back special conservation and recreation areas of the Elliott, adopting Forest Stewardship Council management prescriptions for parts of the Elliott with 250-year-old trees and allowing five Indian Tribes the first right of refusal should Lone Rock decide to sell any part of the Elliott.
What happens next is unclear. The SLB meets again in April. The legislature needs to approve the $25 million in bonding. Lone Rock needs to decide if the amendments that Read proposed are acceptable to them to move forward. Governor Brown will spend the next couple of months trying to undo the SLB action and keep the Elliott in state ownership.