Elliot State Forest potentially finds new home with Oregon State researchers

Elliot State Forest potentially finds new home with Oregon State researchers

The massive sea of trees known as the Elliott State Forest, between Coos Bay and Reedsport, might be getting a new owner.

“When you think of a post card or a map, you think of a forest,” says Anthony S. Davis, Oregon State University’s Interim Dean.

Davis is talking about none other than the Oregon terrain.

He knows better than most the value of science from our forests.

“We have to understand, what are the range of potential future changes in how our forests will grow," Davis says.

He’s talking about climate change. One of the many topics experts research here at the McDonald-Dunn Research Forest near OSU.

“Manipulating the forest and seeing how it develops over time,” Director of OSU’s research forests Stephen Fitzgerald says. “The longer a study goes, the more information you get.”

That’s why OSU is looking to manage the Elliott State Forest after the state gave the University the green light last December.

These researchers are excited to explore research opportunities in the Elliott’s 80,000-acre forest versus their near 11,000-acre McDonald-Dunn Forest, which they would still keep.

“When you talk about something that big, the opportunity to do something different is what we have to look for,” Davis says.

Davis says researchers have an opportunity to demonstrate and apply model results and conduct full-scale experiments on things like how to improve water quality and forest management despite climate changes.

But, he says it’s also about the people that live near the forest, who can give insight on how it has changed so far. Allowing experts to look at long term effects on the forest in the future.

“With the Elliott, it would be a blank slate,” Davis.

Now, it’s up to the University to be absolutely sure it’s ready to tackled the massive Elliott State Forest and present a plan to the state by the end of the year.

The state approved a $100 million bond to decouple the Elliott State Forest from the Common School Fund, which leaves the price tag down to about $121 million.

OSU says it’s not looking to fund this until all research opportunities are vetted.

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