Regarding my letter about the Elliott State Forest published Dec. 23, 2019, in The World. Coos County Commissioner Bob Main replied to the contents of my letter. I want to share his responses.
1. Two years ago I asked the Coos County Commissioners “to develop some type of action against the State of Oregon plan to sell the Elliott State Forest."
Commissioner Main’s Dec. 23, 2019 response: “We have tried twice to convince the State Land Board (Governor, Secretary of State & State Treasurer) that Coos and Douglas counties should purchase the Elliott State Forest. We were rejected twice without even a meeting or discussion.” My response: Many would agree with Coos/Douglas counties purchase. Coos County has a forestry department and they do know how to manage forest lands!
2. I urged the Coos County Commissioners to step up in leadership and file a lawsuit against the State of Oregon for not following the law to manage the Elliott State Forest.
Commissioner Main’s response: “We cannot sue the State because we are not an aggrieved party. The schools would have to sue. However, if the schools won, they (local schools) would not gain because of the equalized funding statute." My response: No matter, law is obeyed. Transfer management of the Elliott to Coos County with percentage of profits, balance goes to Common School Fund to benefit all Oregon school children in perpetuity.)
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Commissioner Main also wrote: “Coos County was one of the 18 O&C counties that joined to sue the BLM on mismanagement of the O&C forest. We were also one of the counties that sued the Oregon Department of Forestry and won a $1.1 billion dollar lawsuit because of mismanagement of the Trust Land Forest. In addition, Coos County has an ongoing lawsuit against the BLM concerning the Coos Bay Wagon Road Grant Land.”
My response: Coos County IS providing leadership in lawsuits to force state and federal agencies to obey the laws. Is it time for over 400 school districts in the State of Oregon to file suit against the State Land Board for mismanagement and the proposed sale of the Elliott State Forest? So what if all the schools in the State of Oregon share in the proceeds of the environmentally sound operation of the Elliott State Forest within the equalized funding statute? The law is the law and fair is fair.
When Oregon became a State In 1859, profit from nearly 3.4 million acres of Oregon lands were dedicated to the Common School Fund. In 2018 the distribution was approximately $100 per student. Local property taxes fund the balance. Of the 3.4 million acres Oregon had to finance schools, about 750,000 acres remain in state ownership. We should never consider selling the major Oregon asset known as the 81,000 acre Elliott State Forest!