Target: Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber
Goal: Ensure that public land is not sold for private use and help protect the wildlife and inhabitants of Elliott State Forest
Conservation groups recently filed a lawsuit challenging the state of Oregon’s sale of a parcel of the Elliott State Forest. Filed by Cascadia Wildlands, the Audubon Society of Portland, and the Center for Biological Diversity, the complaint states that state law prohibits the 788-acre East Hakki Ridge from being sold. The conservation groups argue that the privatization of this public land is illegal and will harm local wildlife, including the threatened marbled murrelet, the endangered coho salmon and spotted owl, and hundreds of other species. Urge Oregon’s governor, who heads the State Land Board, to withdraw the sale offer and instead find alternative means to generate revenue.
Elliott State Forest consists of 93,000 acres and was the first state forest established in Oregon. Located in the Oregon Coast Range near Coos Bay, more than 90 percent of the forest forms part of Oregon Common School Fund (CSF)—lands devoted to supporting public education statewide. In recent years, controversy has risen in response to changes in the way the forest is managed. In 2011, the Land Board adopted a new management plan, which aimed to increase annual net revenue by increasing the annual timber harvest, as well as the number of acres that would be clearcut.
The East Hakki Ridge parcel is one of five tracts that the state has authorized for privatization. One of the parcels contains the highest concentration of Endangered Species Act-listed coho salmon in the Oregon Coast Range. The threatened marbled murrelet nests here as well, traveling more than 40 miles inland to lay a single egg in the region’s remaining older rainforests. Clearcutting of the marbled murrelet’s habitat would severely threatening their survival.
The state of Oregon has recently revealed that it will soon analyze the possibility of selling off the entire Elliott State Forest. Urge government officials and Oregon State Land Board members to pursue a solution that protects the forest and keeps it in public ownership.
Dear Governor Kitzhaber,
I am writing to urge you to reconsider the proposed sale of the East Hakki Ridge parcel of the Elliott State Forest. This area is home to many threatened and endangered species, and increasing the amount of clearcutting timber will harm local wildlife and ecosystems.
In 1957, the Oregon legislature enacted a law specifically to prevent this kind of disposal of the Elliott State Forest. According to the purchase and sale agreement dated April 15, 2014, the Seneca Jones Timber Company bought the parcel for $1,895,000 even though the state of Oregon valued the timber at $5,590,000. According to the Audubon Society of Portland, the state of Oregon has illegally clearcut the forest for decades, and now that it has been forced to stop, it is engaging in an illegal sale.
Financial profit should not be valued over the lives of the hundreds of species that rely on the forest for their survival. I urge you to find alternative ways to generate profit for the Common School Fund.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: CC-BY-SA-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons