THE ELLIOTT RAINFOREST

*** The Latest 04/01/15 ***

Hey world! It's been a minute - the following is an update about the Elliott for the last year or so. For more info, look back through some of our website posts. Oregonlive also has a ton of Elliott pieces, just search for Cascadia Forest Defenders or the Elliott State Forest. Thanks for reading, and as always, email us at forestdefensenow@gmail.com if you wanna get in touch.

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The State of Oregon hemorrhaged over 3 million dollars last year on the Elliott. Cascadia Wildlands lawsuit, which had halted most logging in the forest for the last two and a half years, culminated in 28 timber sales being dropped but no long-term change in the management structure of the forest.

In spring of 2014, the state sold a 788-acre parcel of the Elliott to Seneca Jones Timber Company and two parcels totaling 665 acres to Scott Timber Company. Each of these parcels contains documented marbled murrelet nesting habitat and ancient, never-before-logged trees. Since being sold, "private property" signs have been installed outside the parcels; locked gates deny hunters, fishers, hikers, campers, and other recreationalists access to the land they have shared with other Oregonians for decades. Now, anyone who dares to visit the "privatized" forest at East Hakki Ridge, Adams Ridge, or Benson will be informed that they are trespassing. Our pleasure, jerks.

For a thorough run-down on this chapter, we refer you to this excellent piece written by Dan Prahl.

After backlash surrounding the land sales, the Oregon State Land Board solicited input for the 'Elliott Alternatives Project'  through meetings with timber and environmental constituents, public hearings and comments. The state ended up outlining several different proposals, ranging from selling the entire forest to private timber companies, to transferring management of the Elliott to a different government agency, to assigning ownership to a community board comprised of various affected parties.

In December, the State Land Board met to discuss which option they should use. No final decision was made, but the alternative that would auction the Elliott to big timber was taken off the table (whew).

It seems likely that the State Land Board will sell the forest to another government institution, like Fish and Wildlife or the BLM. While it is our believe that forests do not require human "management" and certainly not the management of a state entity, we recognize that transferring the Elliott away from the State of Oregon to a different agency is the choice the SLB should make. This transfer would separate school funding from timber harvest revenues, an outcome we have been advocating since 2012. Based on the management of other public forests in the state, we expect that a transfer option would involve a thirty-year rotation of thinning in second growth forests (half of the Elliott has been logged before and is therefore 'second-growth') with the older stands legally protected but still vulnerable to logging.

While most of the larger management decisions are in the State Land Board's hands, cutting is still happening in the Elliott. Last year, Salander Between was logged and there are more timber sales on there way, although they seem to be unpopular with the mountain beavers.
 
We are thankful to everyone who has worked and cried with us, all of the people who organize in their communities, come out to hearings and continue to educate themselves. The Elliott is in the news about once a week and we are lucky to be part of a movement to protect this place. We try to honor and want to acknowledge the first Elliott Forest Defenders, the Hanis and Quuiich people of the Lower Umpqua. The Elliott story isn't finished. Keep checking in with us to hear the latest.

For the Wild,
CFD


*** Update: 03/11/14 ***
Currently the Elliott is facing new multiple threats. The State Land Board gave the initial go ahead for privatizing 2700 acres in the forest. Last week the first old timber in the Elliott, a timber sale called Salander Between was felled since the injunction began. Another sale has been proposed called Ash Valley Overlook, a 100 year old stand located in the Northeast corner of the Elliott. We intend to keep organizing against privatization of public land as well intend to halt the destruction of the last of the coastal rainforests. We will keep this website updated with news as it comes in. For more current information of the status of the Elliott Rainforest, also check out Coast Range Forest Watch and Cascadia Wildlands. 

-CFD

F.A.Q About our current campaign:

What is the Elliott State Forest? 


(photo Francis Eatherington)
The Elliott State Forest is 90,000-acre tract of coastal rainforest that the Oregon Department of Forestry is ritually slaughtering as a sacrifice to the state’s Common School Fund. Was a 93,000 acre forest til last year when 3,000 acres were permanently sold to Seneca Jones.

The land that is now called the Elliott was inhabited by the Hanis and Quuiich people of the Lower Umpqua tribe before European settlement. The native peoples hunted deer and elk, gathered berries, and guarded their borders closely, allowing visitors and hunters on invitation.  They also gathered medicinal plants including pipsissewa and ceanothus, which was known by the Hanis as xwalxwaluu hlehlox (eye medicine).

Where is it? 
The Elliott is in Oregon’s coastal range, South of the Umpqua River, in Douglas and Coos County. The nearest towns are Reedsport, Allegany, North Bend and Coos Bay. 

What do you mean by “native” forest? 
We use the term “native forest” to describe wild lands that have never been logged, mined, or developed. Other folks may use the terms “virgin,” “original,” "ancient," or "intact." The coast has been even harder hit by industrial logging than other regions of the Pacific Northwest. By some estimates, less than three percent of the coast range is native. 

Is there old growth? 
The short answer is: Yes! While the Oregon Department of Forestry claims that there is no old growth logging in the Elliott, sales frequently contain pockets of old growth. Most trees in the Elliott, however, are “mature growth” trees that grew back  naturally after the Coos Bay settlers fire burned most of the forest to the ground in 1868.

What plants and animals live there? 
The Elliott is home to a multitude of native trees, berries, lichen, and fungi. The fauna includes: cougars, bears, elk, mountain beavers, salmon, marbled murrelets (endangered), and spotted owls (endangered). 

How much are they cutting? 
Until this year, logging companies like Seneca Jones (Eugene) and Roseburg Forest Products clear cut up to 500 acres every year. Under a new implementation plan, which the State Land Board approved in 2011 to affect 2012, companies are allowed to clear cut up to 850 acres per year.  Since summer of 2012, however, all logging of potential marbled murrelet habitat is halted under federal injunction!



What does it look like when they clear-cut? 
The terrain in the Elliott is... vertical. Companies clearcut on steep slopes, leaving nothing to prevent land from sliding into the salmon-bearing streams. After a clearcut, ODF sprays herbicides to clear the land of anything that might compete with the next crop of douglas fir saplings. In the absence of other green life, elk and mountain beavers will eat the saplings. ODF puts plastic guards around the saplings and hires prison labor from Shutter Creek Corrections to trap (kill) thousands of mountain beavers every year.



The state needs the money for schools, right?


The Elliott is a tiny, tiny piece of the pie. The whole Common School Fund is worth 1.1 billion dollars. Logging in the Elliott last year contributed a meager $7.7 million to that pot. CSF dished out 50.5 million dollars to school districts in 2010, which is still pennies next to Oregon’s total spending on schools every year. The State’s projected spending on K-12 education for the next two years is nearly six billion dollars. The state does need money for schools; the majority of profits from the timber industry, however, go to the timber industry, not the school children. 
"Schools vs Trees? We want both!"

Timber country needs the jobs, right? 
Unemployment is a chronic issue in counties that rely on resource extraction. With the housing market crash and advances in technology, domestic jobs in timber are scarce. Roseburg Forest Products laid off over 200 Oregon mill workers in 2010 despite making record profits. We support truly sustainable forestry and an end to log exports. There is no reason to destroy the last fragments of unscathed forest when most of our mill jobs are exported to China and Japan.

What is in danger right now? 
Many of the timber sales of 2011 - 2013 have not been cutting owing to a lawsuit filed by Cascadia Wildlands. Recently, cutting began in a  timber sale called Salander Between and another sale has been proposed called Ash Valley Overlook. In addition to timber sales, the State Land Board is looking to permanently privatize a large amount of the Elliott on the west side of the forest, called the Adams Ridge parcel. Land sale would permanently take the land out of the Common School fund and sell it to the highest bidder, which would most likely be a private timber company. 

What are people doing about it? 
West Fork Millicoma
The devastation of the Elliott has mostly gone under the radar of environmentalists and media. For many years, Cascadia Wildlands and other groups have led hikes, organized letter writing campaigns and raised awareness about the forest. In 2009, Cascadia Forest Defense blockaded Umpcoos Ridge, a sale slated for clearcut. Law enforcement arrested 28 people. This year, CFD set up three blockades and a tree sit to raise public awareness and stall road construction on the West Fork of the Millicoma. It took over 50 law enforcement officers, a back-hoe, and a 125 foot crane to extract and arrest three sitters. Days later several women and transgender folks occupied an ODF office near Portland in solidarity with the forest actions.  In the rest of 2011 and 2012 we protested at numerous State Land Board meetings, dumped christmas trees at Kitzhaber's house and even hung a banner off the state capitol announcing our opposition to the SLB's privatization proposal. We have been continuously campaigning to protect this forest. CFD actively fundraises and recruits volunteers to continue the campaign in the woods and on the streets.

Coast Range Forest Watch is a citizen survey group out of Coos and Douglas county that is doing volunteer surveys of the Marbled Murelet, an endangered and protected coastal seabird.  They hope to be able to document the birds in their native habitat. They have had great success in their first surveying 131 'detections' of the bird. Check out their website to see how to get involved.





Also check out Cascadia Wildlands' lawsuit to save the marbled murrelet on state lands. Cascadia Wildlands have been campaigning as long as we have to protect this forest. Their lawsuit has majorly slowed down the rate of timber harvest.

Email forestdefensenow@gmail.com if you want this information in zine format to distribute where you live!