We have just learned that the Department of State Lands revised the original timber appraisal of the Adams Ridge parcel of the proposed land sale. The state contacted an additional forester and a biologist for opinions on the original report’s interpretation of continuous habitat that needs to be protected due to Coast Range Forest Watch’s marbled murrelet detections in the parcel this summer.
Below is the first map released in the DSL report, followed by the new map released today which blocks out around 200 more acres to the south of Palouse Creek as occupied murrelet habitat.
Due to this new interpretation of continuous habitat, both sides of Palouse Creek are protected from logging. This will have a direct benefit to coho salmon as Palouse Creek is one of the most productive coho spawning grounds in the entire Coast Range. This change in occupied site designation has dropped the appraisal value of the timber on this parcel an additional $146,000 to around $731,000.
The Department of State Lands is considering a proposal to sell three tracts of the Elliott State Forest to private bidders. The Elliott State Forest is comprised of 93,000 acres of forestland east of Coos Bay and Reedsport. The Elliott has been the focus of an ongoing dispute over forest management practices. Close to half of the forest has never before been logged, and is home to endangered species such as the marbled murrelet, northern spotted owl and coho salmon. Currently, an injunction from a federal judge halted many of the Oregon Department of Forestry’s recent timber sales due to a lawsuit filed by conservation groups contesting that the ODF was planning timber sales in occupied marbled murrelet habitat.
The marbled murrelet is a potato-sized seabird which nests on large branches in old-growth trees within fifty miles of the ocean. During the nesting season, the birds commute to the ocean to fish and return to their branches to feed their young. Through the timber boom in the 1900s much of the suitable habitat along the Oregon coast was harvested. The Elliott offers an important refuge for these imperiled birds. After the murrelet was listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1992, stands of trees occupied by the birds have federal protection. Since their listing 21 years ago, their populations have continued to decline. A decade-long study by the Washington Department of Natural Resources released in 2010 reported the annual population decline in the U.S. At 3.7% annually.
For anyone who missed out, we had a group of thirty folks led by experts from Fungi for the People this past Saturday. Hiking along Palouse Creek, we encountered and identified dozens of different fungi. The weather held out for us, and the light rain in the week before made for a bounty in the soil. For many who came to the hike, it was the first time they had heard of Oregon Department of State Lands’ efforts to privatize over 2700 acres of the Elliott State Forest. The hike led us through one parcel of the three in the privatization plan; along a creek that Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says is part
of a watershed on the West side of the Elliott that has the highest coho salmon production on the Oregon Coast. We’re looking forward to more hikes and workshops soon.
In the meantime, the team at Cascadia Wildlands has written up two proposals for alternatives to the privatization of Oregon’s public lands, highlighting the Elliott’s unique ability to sequester carbon and the ways Common School Fund revenue can still come from intact Coast Range forest in Oregon. Good reading to consider.
A small Stereum Ostrea hiding along the trail.
The Elliott State Forest, almost 150 square miles of timberland, is the very close neighbor of the Millicoma River Park and Recreation District. It is more than a neighbor. Almost 10 percent of it is within the boundaries of our district and when certain timber sales occur within those boundaries, the district gets a piece of the action. Due to ongoing environmental issues, it has unfortunately been a few years since any timber sales have accrued to our benefit.
The Elliott State Forest belongs to the people of the state of Oregon, who fell heir to this magnificent piece of very unique real estate many years ago. Most of it was originally within the catastrophic Coos Forest Fire of 1868. When the Siuslaw National Forest was created in 1908, this land of the Coos Fire was incorporated into the National Forest, and there it remained until 1930.
Meanwhile, in 1911, the state of Oregon created its Board of Forestry and appointed as its first state forester a man of most remarkable vision. This was Francis Elliott, who set out to create a state forest that would produce a large sustained yield of timber, in perpetuity. The net sales were all to go into a trust fund for support of the public schools. And, he actually pulled it off! In a 1930 land exchange, the federal government transferred about 70,000 acres of federal forest land to the State Land Board. The State Board of Forestry, beginning in 1940, picked up another 9,000 acres of delinquent tax land from the counties. The state forest named for Francis Elliott, through many years of intense land trades and exchanges, attained the very efficient size and boundaries of its present 92,000 acres.