Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Stop 5000 Acre Public Lands Give Away

Governor Kitzhaber and Secretary of State Kate Brown will decide at a February 8th 2011 State Land Board Meeting on whether to move forward on auctioning off 4,920 acres of Common School Fund (CSF) Land in Josephine and Jackson counties. Most of these parcels if sold would likely be bought by local timber industry interests and subsequently clearcut. In 2010 this has been the case for sales and exchanges of CSF lands in western Oregon.

Five of these parcels are square mile sections (640 acres).
Two Sections are in the Illinois Valley (Woodcock Creek, Althouse Creek) and one Section is near the Rogue River and Onion Mountain Lookout. One Section is in the headwaters of the Applegate River (Slick Rock Creek) approximately 12 miles due south of Williams. Some parcels are in the East Fork Applegate Drainage. The fifth square mile parcel is located at the headwaters of Evans Creek and Cow Creek east of Glendale. The remaining 2,000 acres are 40- 340 acre parcels. (For Legal Locations go to: http://www.oregon.gov/DSL/LW/land_sales.shtml )

All of these parcels still contain some mature and/or old growth forests although DSL staff is attempting to deny it.

In Lane County 300-500 year old trees have been clear-cut from these "sold" public lands that were acquired by a former Oregon Board of Forestry member. The Oregon BOF makes recommendations and approves the disposal of the CSF lands. This current round of "disposal" sales of State public land has already occurred throughout most western Oregon counties.
See articles from the Oregonian December 2010 here.
link to www.oregonlive.com

link to www.oregonlive.com

We are urging folks who want to stop this public land from being sold off to local timber interests, clear-cut, and poisoned to write Governor Kitzhaber and Secretary of State Kate Brown who will decide the fate of these lands on February 8th 2011. Urge them to implement a moratorium on further Common School Fund land sales, initiate an independent investigation of whether laws were followed in earlier sales, if the "disposal" moves forward that the Forest Service and BLM be given priority in the acquisition of these lands, and demand the Governor mandate the adoption Code of Ethics rules for the Oregon Board of Forestry (BOF) to eliminate this sort of corruption.

Other things you could do to stop this: visit and photo-document these lands (send the most revealing photos to State Lands Board officials and use them for outreach purposes) and if at all possible write letters to the editor to educate your neighbors.

Together we can stop this corrupt travesty from moving forward and happening again.

Governor Kitzhaber
RE: School Fund Land Sale
160 State Capitol
900 Court Street
Salem, OR 97301-4047

Kate Brown
RE: School Fund Land Sale
Oregon Secretary of State
136 State Capitol
Salem, OR 97301

Background

Common School Fund Asset Management Plan (2006-2016) - the second plan of its nature, designed in DSL's words, to 'dispose of' 12,000 acres of undesirable lands (stated too costly to manage) across Oregon, in the effort of acquiring assets (not necessarily lands) that might be valuable in the future (they admit this depends on the economy).

CSF lands - Common School Fund lands, 100% of the proceeds from the logging and/or sale allegedly goes back into the fund. State Land Board (SLB) has ultimate authority. ODF manages on the ground, and DSL pays ODF for this service. The State has slowly sold off or transfered ownership to other agencies of CSF lands since first acquiring them in the late 1800's, now more rapidly.

GLOSSARY

SLB - State Land Board; includes Governor, Secretary of State, State Treasurer; works with DSL and BOF; has ultimate authority over Common School Fund land (mostly forest).

DSL - Department of State Lands; Advises the SLB on the condition of such lands and whether state land should be sold, exchanged or transferred to other entities.

BOF - Oregon Board of Forestry makes management decisions related to State and private forestland; members appointed by Governor, approved by State legislature; usually contains several timber company owners or relatives of timber owners. They recommend and approve parcels to be "disposed" of. Jennifer Philippi of Rough & Ready Lumber currently sits on the BOF.

ODF - Oregon Department of Forestry; manages forested State land and performs a security role for private timber companies.

ECONOMICS
This plan was implemented just as the market for timber started to decline post 2006. There seems to be a burst of sales recently when the market is at bottom, meaning that the CSF gets less money for schools, and timber companies get a great deal, plus exporting at a higher price than appraised at.

One can go here to quickly lookup Locations and preliminary appraisals: http://www.oregon.gov/DSL/LW/land_sales.shtml

THE PROCESS
DSL consults ODF about which parcels it thinks should be exchanged. The list goes up the DSL chain of command to the Director, who then proposes a list to the State Land Board. At one meeting, the State Land Board considers exchanges, apparently in batches, sometimes by County by County. At a later meeting, the SLB decides on these exchanges.

Sometimes, and the details are not clear, the BOF has a decision making role. This is for parcels that it oversees - it does not oversee the management of all CSF parcels. It is unknown how it was determined which parcels the BOF would oversee. We suspect the lack of clarity on which parcels the BOF manages having to do with ease of giving the industry old growth to export.

If the BOF oversees a parcel, then it has to decide in favor of its exchange, then the SLB makes the final decision. In the transaction record in the land database for our focus parcels, we see a transfer between BOF and SLB before a sale or trade.

The SLB is supposed to notify the County in which the parcels exist of its decision, and then the County has x number of days to appeal. Do CSF exchanges fall under the Administrative Procedures law or is there something specific for them? We don't know. A public hearing is allowed under law. But, according to DSL, it's press releases that give just the location and sale price and auction deadline are deemed adequate. DSL says it acquired "extensive" public input on its Asset Management Plan and that public involvement regarding individual parcels is unnecessary.

Note: There are non-CSF lands that BOF & ODF manage, without the extra authority of SLB. Different laws govern CSF lands and other State lands. The Elliott State Forest and Tillamook-Clatsop State Forests have different management regimes. ~~~~~

Please Contact us if you have new information, or have further inquiries.

Shannon Wilson (541-746-3371) ( tsuga@efn.org)
Samantha Chirillo

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