November 22 Program Meeting: Exploring the Elliott State Forest Conundrum with Robin Meacher
The Elliott State Forest is an irreplaceable Oregon treasure. This approximately 93,000-acre coastal rainforest is nestled between Coos Bay and Reedsport in Oregon’s coastal range. While it is home to many species including the imperiled Coho Salmon, the Elliott is perhaps most well known for the habitat it provides the federally threatened Marbled Murrelet and the Northern Spotted Owl. The murrelet is a small sea bird that spends most of its time at sea feeding on fish, but nests inland in older forest. Its plight has captured the hearts of conservationists.
At this point the Elliott is also a drain on the Common School Fund, which it was created in 1930 to help sustain. Herein lies the problem. Policies and regulations to protect threatened species have reduced the timber harvests that previously provided income for Oregon schools. In 2013 the loss from the Elliott was $3.8 million.
To cut these losses, the Department of State Lands has decided to sell the Elliott, putting at risk one of the few remaining tracts of intact Oregon forestland. Due to reduced logging revenue on the forest and a complicated political arena, the sale of the Elliott could lead to privatization and liquidation of this premier murrelet, owl, and salmon habitat. It could also make the area inaccessible to birders, hikers, and others who enjoy spending time amidst its beauty and diversity.
Robin Meacher, Wildlands Campaign Director at Cascadia Wildlands, will present a visual tour of the Elliott and lead a conversation centering around the role the murrelet has played in the complex history of the Elliott and the state’s decision to dispose of this valuable public forest.