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Legislature preserves Elliott State Forest for research, public use

The Elliott State Forest is in southwest Oregon near Coos Bay.
Tim Giraudier/HeadwatersPhotographic
The Elliott State Forest is in southwest Oregon near Coos Bay.

This week, Oregon lawmakers approved a bill that establishes the Elliott State Research Forest on more than 82,000 acres in the coast range near Coos Bay.

The Elliott is a unique tract of coastal forest originally meant to generate logging revenue for Oregon’s K-12 schools. Conservation groups and others long worked to halt that practice and keep the forest intact.

Josh Laughlin, Executive Director of Cascadia Wildlands in Eugene said Senate Bill 1546 preserves the forest for education and research

“Which will have these incredible benefits for clean water and carbon storage and habitat for imperiled species,” he said. “But most important it delinks school funding from clear cutting old growth forests. That was the goal that we set out to achieve about 20 years ago.”

Oregon State University will lead research on climate, species, and forestry. There will be some logging in designated areas. The forest will remain in public ownership with public access.

The bill was approved by the house Thursday after being passed in the senate Tuesday.

At a press briefing following the legislature's adjournment Friday, Gov. Kate Brown hailed the bill as one of the top accomplishments of the 2022 session.

"For Oregonians to come together and develop a plan for the forest that I think will serve the needs of Oregonians, and for research for science for decades to come, to get this done and to invest the resources we need is extraordinary," she said.

Copyright 2022 KLCC.

Rachael McDonald is KLCC’s host for All Things Considered on weekday afternoons. She also is the editor of the KLCC Extra, the daily digital newspaper. Rachael has a BA in English from the University of Oregon. She started out in public radio as a newsroom volunteer at KLCC in 2000.
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