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Oregon's Elliott State Forest is worth $221 million, according to the Oregon Department of State Lands. That figure is based on a review process that included appraisals by three independent firms.
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Off-road — or off-highway (OHV) — vehicles zip through the state's national forests as drivers enjoy the speed and the beauty of their surroundings. However, that excitement might be limited if Mt. Hood's newly released travel plan (pdf) sets any kind of standard. It specifies 146 miles of roads and trails in the Mt. Hood National Forest for use by vehicles like ATVs and dirt bikes. Environmental groups such as Bark and Oregon Wild applaud the decision. They are pleased this will force vehicles to stay in designated areas. And will give law enforcement the ability to chase them down if they don't. Lori Ann Burd, from Bark, told OPB reporter Rob Manning:
It's going to allow them to begin to get a grip on some of the out-of-control OHV use. Managing OHVs on Mount Hood has been a nightmare for the forest's already stretched-thin law enforcement team.People who enjoy the sport are less pleased. Marvin Ohlde from the Central Oregon Motorcycle and ATV Club told me he thinks the plan simply doesn't allow enough trail for ATVs in the forest.
What's the best way to manage — and to assess the value of — a state forest? That's a question currently under consideration in the legislature. House Bill 3072 would allow the state to change the way it defines the "greatest permanent value" for forest lands by emphasizing the economic value of logging in the forest rather than balancing timber with ecological and recreational benefits. Tillamook and Clatsop County commissioners (who sit on the largest pockets of state forest land) see an increased emphasis on logging as a way to bring more revenue to counties that were cash-strapped before the current global recession. The Oregonian editorial board (and plenty of environmental groups) see the current legislative proposal as the end of a balanced approach to forest management.
The Civilian Conservation Corps was one of the most popular New Deal relief programs. Today, their work is still enjoyed in parks and forests around the state.
A law passed in 2011 takes effect this school year and it's changing the way Oregon students will be graded from here on out. The law requires districts to measure students' performance based on state standards and to assign grades based on whether students are meeting, exceeding or falling short of those standards. The law says that grades must clearly distinguish between academic proficiency and behavior. The law does not specifically define "behavior." Many districts are interpreting it to include things like attendance, class participation and whether or not students turn in their homework on time. For districts like Forest Grove, this lines up with the way they've been grading students for years. But for other districts, such as Reynolds, it feels like a huge cultural shift.
Detective Matt Smith investigates elder abuse cases. He says he's flooded with cases right now and doesn't anticipate the pace letting up anytime soon. Many abusers, he says, are not who you might expect. In one of his cases, a former school board member became a caregiver to a family friend and then drained the senior's savings on vacations, gambling and pornography. Shawn Michael Vilhauer was ultimately sentenced to five years probation and to pay restitution to the family — but not in time to help Gary Murray, who died alone in a care facility. Many of the cases Smith sees involve financial abuse. He estimates about half the time, the victim dies before the abuser is convicted. Smith says he applauds recent changes in state law to strengthen the hand of law enforcement, including the bill that passed this week to expand mandatory reporting of elder abuse.