The Elliott State Forest near Coos Bay is a coastal gem consisting of 82,500 acres of public land that includes rare remnant older forests and critical habitat for Oregon coastal coho salmon. Unfortunately, in 2017, the forest was at risk of being sold to a private logging company. Privatization would have reduced access for local anglers and hunters—the Elliott is some of the last accessible land in the area—and would have harmed fish habitat and water quality.
Our strong coalition of hunters, fishers, conservationists, and businesses fought to keep these public lands in public hands. The State Land Board responded by unanimously cancelling the sale of the Elliott in May of 2017. This win laid the groundwork for protecting a forest and it’s many benefits.
Thanks to leadership from Governor Brown and Senate President Peter Courtney, the Legislature took on the root of the problem. The Elliott State Forest is obligated to provide funding to Oregon schools through timber harvests, which created pressure to harvest at unsustainable levels. The state Legislature found a way to address this problem, by passing $100M in state bonds for schools, thereby reducing the pressure to harvest. The Legislature also provided funding to engage the public in planning a future for the forest based on a wide spectrum of values.
As we join that planning process, Wild Salmon Center envisions an Elliott that is a model for state forest management, with ample protections for fish and wildlife, expanded opportunities for recreation, and forest harvests focused on maintaining a healthy forest with a range of historic habitats. We continue to stay focused on keeping this issue front and center with State Land Board. Stay tuned for new developments and opportunities to provide comments to the state on the future of the Elliott.