Are Small Birds More Important than Small Kids?

By John A. Charles, Jr.


Last year the S&P 500 Index had a total return on investment of 32%. That should have been good news for Oregon public schools, which receive twice-yearly checks from an endowment known as the Common School Fund.

One of the largest assets of the Fund is the 93,000-acre Elliott State Forest, near Coos Bay. Unfortunately, the Elliott did not return 32% last year. It did not even return zero percent. The state actually lost $3 million. That is quite a feat of mismanagement for timberland with a value of more than $500 million.

The Elliott is governed by the State Land Board, comprised of Gov. John Kitzhaber, Secretary of State Kate Brown, and State Treasurer Ted Wheeler. Under their leadership, more than 84% of the Elliott has been set aside in no-touch zones to accommodate the alleged needs of a small bird known as the marbled murrelet. Refusing to harvest timber means that schools lose out.

There is a better way.  A recent study shows that by simply selling or leasing the Elliott, Oregon schools would gain additional revenues of $40-50 million per year, with larger amounts over time.

Markets work when we allow them to. It’s time to apply market-based principles to the Elliott State Forest.

John A. Charles, Jr. is President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Education, Environment | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Jack Lord God

    Frankly the big thing here is the Marbled Murrelet. There is s huge spread in the valuation, from $139M to $800M. Is this due to the bird? In other words, is there a legal impetus to set aside for the murrelet that is hard to quantify? I am well aware that the marbled murrelet has been a contentious species rivaling the Northern Spotted Owl. When you have that kind of situation, it brings into question the value of the land as far as timber harvest goes.

  • Dick Winningstad

    If the state adopted good management praqctices like Stimson Lumber and harvest 1-1.5% of the forest per year the schools would have the benefit of a continuous income and the forest would be forever. Sustainable yield is the idea. 13-80 million a year is not a bad income for the schools.

  • Sally

    The stupid wind farms kill more birds every day than this!

  • zanzara2041

    The Marbled Murrelet and the timber and the forest are going to die out no matter what mankind does or when mankind dies out. We’re all fossils and don’t want to acknowledge it.

    • .

      Earth, urf, fossil, fossil and udder celestial antiquitease!

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