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State Land Board takes no action on proposed forest sale

The State Land Board took no action Tuesday on a purchase offer for the Elliott State Forest, but Gov. Kate Brown, a land board member, stated that she will pursue state funding for a still-undefined alternative proposal involving public and private participation.

Brown first directed the Department of State Lands to stay the course in preparing to sell the 82,500-acre Common School Fund property in Coos and Douglas Counties to a partnership of the Lone Rock Timber Management Company and the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians. The partnership was the sole bidder for the forest, which the state has proposed to sell at its appraised price of $220.8 million.

But the governor also said that she would work on a proposal to tap state bonds for $100 million that would be the foundation of a different ownership structure. The concept would be to meet the state’s obligation to the Common School Fund while separating out the issue of the forest’s future ownership. She offered no details.

The State Land Board will take up the issue in February but with two new members. State Treasurer Ted Wheeler, who will become Portland’s mayor next month, will be replaced by Tobias Reed. Dennis Richardson will serve on the land board as the new Secretary of State, replacing Jeanne Atkins. Brown will remain on the board.