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Elliott State Research Forest Comment Guide

West Fork Millicoma River

We are rapidly approaching a crucial time to weigh in on the future of the Elliott State Forest. Many of you have followed the issues surrounding the ESF for many years, and have supported our efforts to keep the forest in public ownership and to protect critical habitat.  

For the last 2 years, the Department of State Lands and Oregon State University have been drafting a plan to make the Elliott State Research Forest, and the College of Forestry has released a draft for public review (for more information on the draft proposal click here). Unfortunately, OSU failed to provide a final report until just yesterday, with many pieces of the proposal still to be worked out.

Please take the time to submit any feedback or comment to the Department of State Lands by 5 p.m. on Sunday, November 29th, asking them to address the unresolved issues before the Land Board votes on this proposal! These comments will be reviewed and summarized at the State Land Board meeting in December.  You can fill out this online form to submit your comments, or email Ali.R.Hansen@dsl.state.or.us , or by postal mail to ESRF Feedback, 775 Summer St. NE, Suite 100, Salem, Oregon 97301.

Comment suggestions: Please ask the Land Board to direct DSL to address the negatives and unresolved issues before they vote on this proposal!

Positives

  • Potential for local education and employment opportunities
  • Improvement of positive recreation (ie, better signage, an attentive manager who can be more present and prevent trash dumping, destructive off-roading, etc)
  • Likely to provide more sustainable forestry practices than were seen under the Oregon Department of Forestry

Negatives/Unresolved issues 

  • Clear-cuts, aerial spray, habitat fragmentation, potential loss of ~3200 acres of native/mature or old growth forest including Marbled Murrelet nesting sites
  • Not yet a clear path for how will OSU be held accountable to their commitments 
    • There must be clear criteria and processes for accountability. This includes commitment to public records laws, providing draft management plans with adequate notice, accepting public review on said plans, and checks and balances
    • The conservation reserve areas should be formalized through an enforceable mechanism.
    • There must be some reversionary clause allowing the Elliott to revert to the State if OSU backs out or fails to meet commitments.
  • Is OSU up for the job? Thus far they have not performed well in public communication or providing complete and consistent information. They must be able to provide adequate staffing/funding if they take on this responsibility.
  • Is this the right research design? Such a large-scale research project with such large implications should be vetted by external researchers and include climate change as an integral driver of the research and management plan.

We advocate for:

  • No logging of endangered species habitat: 
    • Protect all Marbled Murrelet habitat – No logging in Marbled Murrelet habitat while the species is protected under the endangered species habitat
    • No logging of Spotted Owl sites
  • No aerial herbicide spraying
  • Public transparency/oversight, accountability, and enforceability of the conservation and recreation commitments (including in regards to commercial timber projects, revenue from timber, and allocation of funds)
  • Public access to the forest and maintenance of a healthy forest for non-timber forest products such as hunting, fishing, mushroom and berry picking
  • Manage riparian buffers according to the best available science on salmon and non-fish bearing streams
    • Riparian management should promote recovery of the endangered Oregon Coast Coho salmon
    • Application of the best available science to monitor water quality 
  • Encourage recreation by creating quality hiking and biking trails
  • Funding for adequate management and maintenance 
  • Manage the forest in a way that fosters biodiversity: Integration of age diversity across the landscape, instead of large areas of single age plantations
  • Long term collaboration with local and statewide stakeholders and local tribal nations
    • Collaboration with the local tribal nations to protect cultural sites

Be sure to save the date for December 8th at 10 a.m. to watch the State Land Board meeting. There will be opportunities for public testimony. The meeting link, agenda, and materials, including the final draft proposal and a feedback summary, will be posted on the Land Board meeting website on Tuesday, December 1. We will be sure to post this information on our social media and newsletter.

Quick tips for writing good comments:

  • Be concise.
  • Write about personal experiences and things that really matter to you, make it unique.
  • Keep your comments fact-based.

Sample comment:

Dear Governor Brown, Secretary Clarno, and Treasurer Read: As a resident of SW Oregon, I am writing to urge you to hold off voting on the current OSU management proposal for the Elliott State Forest until unresolved issues can be better addressed. While I am hopeful that OSU management of the Elliott State Forest could provide for more sustainable forestry practices and improved recreation and education opportunities, there are many critical issues that need to be resolved. 
In particular, I am concerned about how OSU will address conservation of habitat for ESA-listed species, including Marbled Murrelets, Northern Spotted Owls, and Oregon Coast coho. In the plan, I’d like to see protection for all habitat for murrelets and spotted owls, management of riparian buffers to promote the recovery of coastal coho, and management of the forest in a way that fosters biodiversity, with a full range of trees with different ages across the landscape, instead of large areas of single age plantations. I’d also like to see climate change as an integral piece of the research and management design, as well as a prohibition on aerial herbicide spraying. Finally, I urge you to make sure that any agreement with OSU has provisions for transparency in decision-making and accountability. 
Thank you for considering my perspective. 
Sincerely, 
[your name]

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Thank you for the years of support for the Elliott and our coastal rain forests,

Coast Range Forest Watch volunteers