The Elliott Rainforest: For sale?

Oregon’s Department of State Lands (DSL) has announced a new proposal to sell 2,700 acres of the Elliott State Forest, to be voted on at a State Land Board meeting in December. DSL will accept comments on the proposal until November 11th.

View of Adams Ridge Parcel

The plans for privatization include three parcels in the Western side of the Elliott State Forest. All three parcels contain sections of mature, never-before-logged forest –potentially habitat for the marbled murrelet, an endangered sea bird that nests in old growth. This summer,  a group of volunteer marbled murrelet surveyors with the Coos County-based conservation group Coast Range Forest Watch documented murrelet nesting behavior in one of these parcels, making it a candidate for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.
DSL says that the land sale is necessary in light of a pending lawsuit–filed last year by several conservation groups on behalf of the marbled murrelet– that has made the Elliott “unproductive.” Clearcutting murrelet habitat in the Elliott is currently halted under federal injunction.

“In a time when the State Land Board should be taking responsibility for the mismanagement of the Elliott State Forest, they are going over the heads of the public and the courts and finding ways to manage our public lands for profit instead of conservation,” says Erin Grady, an activist with Cascadia Forest Defenders.

Rare Cedar Grove in Adam’s Ridge Parcel

With only two weeks left in the comment period, they have not released any details on age of stand, value of timber or potential environmental impact if these parcels are sold. “They are avoiding public process as much as possible with this decision.”  says Grady.

Cascadia Forest Defenders are concerned that the parcels will be sold to the highest bidder–most likely  to a logging company.  Much of the private land that surrounds the Elliott State Forest is already managed by the Washington-based Weyerhaeuser Corporation, one of the largest landowners in North America.  Under private ownership, raw logs from the 2,700 acres could be exported overseas, rather than processed in local mills.

“Once land is privatized, the public will never again have a say in what happens to it,” says Grace Pettygrove of Cascadia Forest Defenders. “It won’t be ours anymore- for jobs or the environment.”

Old Douglas Fir in Adams Ridge Parcel

DSL’s proposal comes at a time when public officials at the state and federal level are also pushing for more aggressive management, and potentially privatization, of our O&C forest lands–millions of acres of low elevation forest currently managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Without any guarantee that our public forest lands will be sold to land owners that respect the Endangered Species Act, the watersheds that all Cascadians rely on, and the delicate biodiversity of our region, Cascadia Forest Defenders will not compromise on the issue of land privatization.

Take action! Contact Clara Taylor-
at Oregon’s Department of State Lands and demand transparency on the issue of Elliott land privatization. Let her know that our ancient forests are not for sale!

See the summary of the plan on the Department of State Lands website

More photos of the parcels up for sale. Media is
welcome to use any of these photos.

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