Delaying the inevitable?
The State Land Board has delayed their decision on the proposed sale of the Elliott State Forest to Lone Rock Resources and two American Indian Tribes from April to May. The delay allows Governor Kate Brown who was outvoted when new State Treasurer Tobias Read proposed amending the pending sale agreement to buy back $25 million worth of special recreational or environmental acres. New Secretary of State Dennis Richardson joined Read in supporting the sale.
Brown is trying to use $100 million in bonds to pay the Common School Fund for the Elliot, which Oregon already owns. That is less than half of the $220.8 million Lone Rock is willing to pay. The legislature would have to approve both Brown’s $100 million and Read’s $25 million. This is problematic since there is currently a $1.6 billion hole in the budget.
The Governor has enlisted the help of the Department of Forestry, ODF, to develop an option for the state to maintain the Elliott. ODF has managed the Elliott on behalf of the SLB since the Elliott became Oregon’s first State Forest in the 1930s. Funding for ODF’s management of the Elliott runs out on June 30th of this year.
In anticipation of not having the sale finalized and needing someone to care for the Elliott, the Department of State lands has issued a Request For Proposal for an interim manager of the forest. Yet another strange twist in the Elliott saga…
If the Governor is successful in rounding up $100 million, she still needs one more vote from the three-member board. Read has been under tremendous pressure from shocked environmentalists to change his position. Old time environmental advocates have come in from the hinter lands and have been seen in the Capitol Lobbying Read.
Read has proclaimed his responsibility is to Oregon’s school children to protect the value of the Common School Fund asset. John Charles, longtime follower of the Elliott, and President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute also calls for selling the Elliott in a recent OpEd. Charles pegged the value of the Elliott at $850 million in 1995. The current appraised value of $220.8 million reflects the restrictions the SLB has placed on the Elliott.