Frequently Asked Questions About Historic Agreement Between Lone Rock Timber Management and Oregon Tribes to Acquire Elliott State Forest
How did the sale of the Elliott State Forest come about?
The Elliott State Forest, located inland of the Oregon coast between Coos Bay and Reedsport, is a 92,000-acre forest comprised of Oregon Common School Fund land (roughly 82,500 acres) and Board of Forestry land (roughly 9,500 acres). Each year, the Oregon Department of Forestry and Department of State Lands jointly approve operations plans for each state forest containing Common School Fund land, and proceeds from these timber harvests go to supporting Oregon’s pubic education system.
In recent years, timber harvests have been greatly reduced primarily due to difficulties state agencies have had managing around threatened and endangered species, resulting in net deficits from managing the Elliott. In 2013, loss from the Elliott was $3 million and deficits have continued; draining money from the Common School Fund—and, by extension, public schools. In order to meet its fiduciary responsibilities, in May of 2014 the Department of State Lands initiated a discussion about alternatives to state management of the forest. This led to a decision to propose its sale.
Why does Lone Rock Timber Management Company want to purchase the Elliott State Forest?
Lone Rock is a fourth-generation, family-owned timber management company headquartered in Roseburg, Oregon. We have operated in and around the Elliott for 50 years. There is no other company more committed to preserving the environmental, recreational and economic benefits of the forest. We share these values with every Oregonian. When the state decided it was going to transfer ownership of the Elliott, we felt we were uniquely positioned to be stewards of these lands and protect these values for the benefit of our rural communities and all of Oregon.
What is the purchase price of the Elliott State Forest?
In July 2016, the Oregon Department of State Lands announced the results of an independent, fair-market-value appraisal of the 82,500 acres being proposed for sale. The appraisal estimated the value at $220.8 million, which is the purchase price for the forest.
Are there other entities that are part of Lone Rock’s proposal to purchase the Elliott State Forest?
Joining Lone Rock as an investment partner in the proposal are The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians. Under the historic partnership, the tribe will provide funds to help with the purchase of the forest. After seven years, the tribe will have the opportunity to purchase up to 10,000 acres of their own. This is a powerful agreement intended to provide the tribes a path to ownership of land to be managed for their purposes.
The Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians and The Conservation Fund, a national conservation group experienced with advising landowners on incorporating environmental values in management strategies, will ensure public benefits are being met by holding, monitoring and enforcing conservation easement agreements in the proposal. The Grande Ronde and Siletz tribes also support the proposal and will play vital roles in its implementation.
How will Lone Rock protect the environmental values of the Elliott State Forest?
Lone Rock will set aside 25 percent of the Elliott for conservation, providing habitat for threatened and endangered species. We have also agreed to provide wider stream buffers than those required under the Oregon Forest Practices Act. This means there will be more trees around water sources. These are just the start of what is anticipated to be a future of added conservation value. Lone Rock and its partners plan to explore opportunities for additional ecosystem services like carbon, water and wildlife habitat conservation projects. Finally, Lone Rock’s purchase will mean the forest remains in a management plan based on the principles of stewardship and sustainability. Lone Rock’s forests are certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative, an independent, third-party organization that monitors and ensures responsible and sustainable forestry practices.
Will Lone Rock provide access to the Elliott for hikers, hunters and other recreationists?
Yes. Lone Rock has always allowed the public access to its land and that won’t change if it is allowed to purchase the Elliott. The company is committed to providing the public access to at least 50 percent of the Elliott, which includes over 41,000 acres of forestland.
What does Lone Rock’s proposal mean for the surrounding community?
Lone Rock’s proposal ensures local ownership, a commitment to local jobs and adherence to Oregon values of sustainability and conservation. Our proposal also guarantees public access and the setting aside of a significant amount of forestland for old growth forests that will provide habit for endangered and threatened species.
What is the state process for determining who will be selected to purchase the Elliott State Forest?
In November our partnership submitted our proposal to the Oregon Department of State Lands (DSL). Our proposal has been reviewed by DSL staff, and after answering staff's questions, it was deemed responsive. The State Land Board, consisting of Oregon’s Governor, Secretary of State and State Treasurer, voted in February to make minor modifications to the protocol and move forward with the sale.