By Nick Perry-Guetti
On Wednesday evening February 1st at University of Oregon - a presentation sponsored by the Pacific Green Party Lane Greens Chapter and given by Coast Range Forest Watch - discussed an ancient forest under threat from a land management administration whose focus seems unclear. CRFW’s co-Director Max Beeken spoke to a full lecture hall in Straub Hall concerning the beautiful 83,000-acre tract of public land, rich in old growth and biodiversity and ecologically valuable for its capacity to absorb carbon, and the issue of its legally and economically questionable sale for timber harvest.
Beeken said that according to the Department of State Lands, the Common School Fund (CSF)––which owns most of the forest––is losing money due to logging restrictions prompted by concerns for federally protected species who reside there. However, Beeken’s data indicated two problems with this story: 1) the CSF does not seem to be losing money at all according to its own statistics, and 2) Elliott’s timber sales are responsible for less than1% of the CSF’s revenue in any case. “Oregon just voted overwhelmingly to support the Fund,” Beeken said. “With such a huge $1.2 billion windfall, it’s hard to see why the forest needs to be sold when timber sales hardly seem to a;ect the Fund’s revenue at all.”
Nevertheless, parcels have been sold to private timber companies. Many of these parcels, upon examination by volunteer wildlife biologists, were found to contain threatened species such as marbled murrelets. Some sales were withdrawn or stopped largely due to the efforts of forest activists, necessary despite Oregon Revised Statute 530.450, which arguably prohibits the sale of most of the forest.