The Elliott State Forest was officially kept public in a ceremony near Reedsport this morning, a victory by and for hunters, anglers and others and ending the potential threat of lost recreational access.
Gov. Kate Brown has signed into law a local lawmaker’s bill that moves the 82,500-acre parcel between the Umpqua and Coos Rivers out of the Common School Fund and its obligations to produce revenue, which had led to its near-sale to a private timber company and a local tribe.
“Oregonians overwhelmingly made it clear that the Elliott’s lands should remain in public hands. Now more than ever, it’s imperative that we not scale back any of Oregon’s public lands or national monuments,” Brown said, crediting fellow members of the state Land Board Tobias Read and Dennis Richardson, as well as bill sponsor Sen. Arnie Roblan and the state legislature for their work.
SB 847 passed the Senate 21-6 and the House 47-12. It raises $100 million in bonds to partially offset the transfer out of the school fund.
Among those on hand at the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area was Ken McCall, resource director for the Oregon Hunters Association, and speaking on behalf of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Trout Unlimited and the Wild Salmon Center.
“Our public lands are highly valued among the groups involved in our coalition,” McCall said. “We see many benefits and opportunities to improve and share the Elliott’s public-land habitats that support our outdoor interests. The Elliott shines as an opportunity to continue a multiple-use forest model in Oregon’s Coast Range … We can envision a strategy that includes research, education, habitat management and recreation among the many benefits of our public lands.”
“Finding creative ways to keep public lands in public hands is paramount in our fight against losing access to the lands and waters that we as sportsmen and women love,” said Backcountry Hunters and Anglers Oregon Chair Ian Isaacson in a press release. “Just as important is engagement by the public. We must be active participants in the entire process, no matter how difficult, tiring and frustrating as it may be.”