Time for a “New Business Model” for the Elliott State Forest

By John A. Charles, Jr.

CascadeNewLogoOregon’s political leaders have the chance to do what they frequently ask of the state legislature: provide more money to Oregon’s schools. So why aren’t they doing it?

The Elliott State Forest on Oregon’s South Coast is an endowment asset for Oregon public schools and is supposed to be making money through timber sales. Unfortunately, due to mismanagement by the Oregon Land Board, timber harvest levels (and associated revenues) have been a fraction of their former levels.

Earlier this year, the Land Board directed the Department of State Lands to develop a new business model for the Elliott in order to turn it from a “net-negative to a net-positive.” In a new report by Cascade Policy Institute, researchers at Utah-based Strata Policy have identified several options for monetizing the Forest so it can meet its constitutional responsibility to Oregon’s children. One option, privatizing the Forest, is likely the most financially beneficial. In a previous Cascade report, economist Eric Fruits concluded that selling or leasing Forest assets could provide stable funding for Oregon schools at approximately $40 to $50 million annually.

The State Land Board will make preliminary decisions on the “new business model” on December 9. Environmental advocates are pushing strongly to eliminate all timber harvesting from the Elliott, but the Board must turn the Forest into an income-producing asset to fulfill its fiduciary obligations to the schools.

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

Kathryn Hickok is Publications Director and Director of the Children’s Scholarship Fund-Portland program at Cascade Policy Institute.

Learn more at cascadepolicy.org.

  • Marty

    Trees are crops, just like cotton and corn. So cut them already and plant some seedlings. What could possibly go wrong?

    • wfecht

      yes they are. (crops) the downside to the privatization is who has the most political clout, and money to purchase the entire forest. Cronyism at its finest on the lowest level. the free market is mostly dead.

  • One of the best ways for the schools to “earn” money is by cutting expenses. The current mandated Common Core is an area that needs to be entirely removed. The schools need to focus on personalizing curriculum and lowering costs.

    • wfecht

      you are on the correct track but youy forget who runs the school system. it aint the people with children. legislators who control the funding, sponsored by the teachers unions who control the teachers and staff, and the Governor who now appoints the state superintendent of schools. The local school boards are pretty much neutered “yes men/women”, have to be PC you know.
      and if you think vouchers and charter schools puts control back into the hands of the people you better go find out who administers and authorizes them to exist. Home schooling is the only way to go to cut the budget or groups that form their own school outside of the district.

  • You are correct about who pulls the strings in public schools. Sadly, most families choose not to homeschool because of both parents working and other factors. I just returned with key persons from one of the districts in our area. Even though I put out legal citations that says that the school board has the authority to make education decisions, it is still the state that sets the standards and outlines what textbooks can be used, etc. It is the taxpayers in Oregon who pay for the dangerous testing, for example, but few people know what is going on in the schools. Those of us who are in the know, need to actively spread the facts, and take an active part in local and state education policy making.

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